Pickett Springs

The Salvation Army's Fresh Air Encampment at Pickett Springs in 1908 (photo courtesy of the Alabama Department of Archives & History)

For about three decades in the late 19th century, Pickett Springs was the place people in Montgomery went to "get away".  The Western Railroad of Alabama bought the plantation formerly owned by Albert Pickett's father-in-law and turned it into a park and resort that would tempt people to ride their rails.  Automobiles and movie theaters led to the decline of places like Pickett Springs, and about a decade into the 20th century the Salvation Army began using the site as a camp for the homeless.  The outbreak of World War I led to the site's transformation into Camp Sheridan, which we'll look at in a later post.

Pickett Springs historical marker side 1, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama

Pickett Springs

Railroad building and amusement park development flourished in the post-bellum South. In 1880s, Western Railroad of Alabama opened Pickett Springs on site of William Harris’s plantation, “Forest Farm”. Harris’s daughter, Sarah, married A.J. Pickett, Alabama’s first historian, and they had their home here until Pickett’s death in 1858. Pickett Springs occupied portion of land as community of Chisholm developed nearby. During World War I Camp Sheridan, infantry training ground, supplanted the old park. During 1920s, West Boylston Manufacturing opened large cotton mill and a residential village in the vicinity.
— Alabama Historical Association - 1999

Pickett Springs historical marker side 2, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama

The Best Public Resort

In September, 1886, Montgomery Advertiser noted Pickett Springs as the “best public resort”. Located four miles north of Montgomery, park offered entertainment and relaxation for citizens who traveled out by train until 1902 when street railway service started. Included in the area were a dance pavilion, refreshment stand, bowling alley, shooting gallery, carousel, flying swing, billiard parlor, scenic car and roller coaster. During summers in early 20th century, Salvation Army conducted fresh-air camps for indigent people. By World War I, Pickett Springs had lost much of its aura as automobiles and movies offered their diversions.
— Alabama Historical Association - 1999

Site of Pickett Springs historical marker side, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama


Antioch Baptist Church

The Antioch Baptist Church was founded in 1818, and is the second oldest church in Montgomery County.  James McLemore and his brothers moved to the Mount Meigs area from Jones County, Georgia, and he immediately started the new congregation at Antioch.  The original location is just north of Interstate 85, but today only the old cemetery remains on that site.  The congregation moved to a new site adjacent to the Peoples Village School in 1919.  That building has been expanded and renovated numerous times over the years, and is still the congregation's home today.  The next set of photos show the church building and its historical marker, as well a map showing the church's location.

Granite marker in the side of the current Antioch Baptist Church building, Mount Meigs, Montgomery County, Alabama

Antioch Baptist Church historical marker, Mount Meigs, Montgomery County, Alabama

Antioch Baptist Church
Mount Meigs, Alabama

Organized on June 5, 1818, the Antioch Baptist Church at Mt. Meigs was the first church of any denomination established in Montgomery County. Rev. James McLemore was its founder and first pastor. Antioch, like most churches in the county, had both white and black members before the Civil War and Reconstruction era. Antioch was officially incorporated in May of 1911 under a 9-man board of trustees. In 1919, the Antioch congregation built a new church building on land adjoining the Peoples Village School using material from the old church building; it was bricked and rededicated in 1980. In 1989, classrooms and a fellowship hall were added and a larger sanctuary with a capacity for 1,500 worshipers followed in 1999. The public road leading to the church is designated “Antioch Lane” in recognition of the role Antioch has played in the surrounding communities.
— Alabama Historical Association - 2008

Antioch Baptist Church historical marker location, Mount Meigs, Montgomery County, Alabama

Antioch Baptist Church, Mount Meigs, Montgomery County, Alabama


The next two photos show the Old Antioch Cemetery, and the final map show its location.

Antioch Baptist Church, Mount Meigs, Montgomery County, Alabama

Antioch Baptist Church, Mount Meigs, Montgomery County, Alabama


Grace Episcopal Church

Today we're going to look at another old church here in Montgomery County.  The most interesting thing about Grace Episcopal Church is that it was designed in 1861 according to the popular architectural style of the time, Carpenter Gothic.  Sadly the outbreak of the Civil War and its aftermath delayed the actual construction until 1893.  Rather than soliciting a new, more contemporary design, the congregation used Joseph Pierson's original plans.

Grace Episcopal Church in 1962 (photo courtesy of Alabama Department of Archives & History)

Grace Episcopal Church, Pike Road, Montgomery County, Alabama

Rear of Grace Episcopal Church, Pike Road, Montgomery County, Alabama

Site of Grace Episcopal Church historical marker, Pike Road, Montgomery County, Alabama

Approach to Grace Episcopal Church, Pike Road, Montgomery County, Alabama

Grace Episcopal Church historical marker, Pike Road, Montgomery County, Alabama

Grace Episcopal Church

In the late 1850s the cluster of Episcopal families around Mt. Meigs undertook to build a church and engaged Pennsylvania architect Joseph W. Pierson to prepare the plans. The plans were submitted in April 1861, but due to the hardships caused by the Civil War and its aftermath, it was over 30 years before the church was actually built. Finally becoming a reality in 1893, Grace Church was constructed according to Pierson’s original plans in the “Gothic Revival” style popular for rural Episcopal churches all across the South during the 1850s. The auxiliary buildings and the church gardens are of much more recent construction but reflect the style of the original sanctuary.
— Alabama Historical Association - 2000

Ray Cemetery

We've got another quick post today.  Ray Cemetery dates back to 1849 and is hidden just south of Vaughn Road and west of Ryan Road out in the Mt. Meigs area.  A little research shows that it was still being actively used as recently as 2012.  If you're doing research into the early history of the Montgomery area, Ray Cemetery might prove to be a useful source.

Ray Cemetery historical marker, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama

Ray Cemetery
Est. 1849

John W. Ray and his wife, Martha; their infant son; and her fifteen-year-old brother, James R. Conyers, moved to Mt. Meigs from Greene County, Georgia. He and his older brother, Isaac Ray, owned extensive landholdings along Vaughn and Taylor Roads. These early settlers were devout Missionary Baptists. John W. Ray assisted in organizing Antioch Baptist Church, the first church of any denomination organized in Montgomery County, in 1818 at Mt. Meigs. John W. Ray, James R. Conyers, and members of the Ray, Conyers, Nicholson, Handey and Relfe families are buried here. Among them are veterans of four wars: Dr. John C. Nicholson, Surgeon 1 AL Cavalry Regt. Civil War; his uncle, Vincent Cogburn, veteran of the Mexican War; Mason Handey, Navy, World War I; and John Robert Refle, Captain, US Army, World War II.
— Alabama Historic Cemetery Register - 2008

Ray Cemetery, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama

Ray Cemetery, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama

Ray Cemetery interior, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama

Ray Cemetery tree, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama


Tankersley Rosenwald School

Julius Rosenwald was born in Springfield, Illinois in 1862 to German Jewish immigrants.  When he was 16 he moved to New York City to apprentice under his uncles in their clothing business.  He eventually started a clothing manufacturing company with his brother, but it went bankrupt in 1885 and the Rosenwald brothers decided to start over closer to home in Chicago.  They started their new company, Rosenwald & Weil Clothiers, with their cousin.  In 1893 Rosenwald & Weil became the chief clothing supplier for Sears, Roebuck & Company, and by 1903 Julius Rosenwald owned half of Sears.  In 1908 Rosenwald became president of the company, and during several corporate re-organizations Rosenwald became acquainted with the banker Paul J. Sachs.  Sachs in turn introduced Rosenwald to Booker T. Washington.

Julius Rosenwald late in life

Washington is one of the greatest Alabamians in history, and we'll cover him in finer detail in many future posts, but for now we'll look at the basics.  Washington was born a slave in Virginia in 1856.  As a young adult he worked in the salt furnaces and coal mines of West Virginia to save money to attend Hampton Institute back in Virginia.  After graduating and working at Hampton as a teacher, Washington was chosen to be the founding principal of the new Tuskegee Institute in Alabama.  Tuskegee opened in 1881, and Washington started his career as one of the preeminent African-American educators in the nation.  Washington quickly realized that there were wealthy industrialists from outside of the South who might be inclined to offer financial support to the cause of African-American education. 

Booker T. Washington

Soon after Rosenwald and Washington's first meeting, they partnered to build six small schools in rural Alabama to be operated by graduates of Tuskegee.  In 1917 the Rosenwald Fund was established by the family to further "the well-being of all mankind", and the so-called "Rosenwald Schools" soon became one of the funds crowning achievements.  The Rosenwald School program provided funding to build new schools to educate rural African-American children throughout the South, but it centered on matching funding from the local community and a pledge from the local school board to administer the school once construction was complete.  Students and scholars at Tuskegee developed architectural plans that were optimized for conditions in the rural South (such as weather and the lack of electricity), and in thirty years over 5,000 schools were built in fifteen states.

The Tankersley School was built in 1923 as one of fourteen Rosenwald Schools in Montgomery County.  It was added to the Alabama Register of Landmarks & Heritage in 2003.  

Tankersley Rosenwald School historical marker, Hope Hull, Montgomery County, Alabama

Tankersley Rosenwald School
Erected in 1923

This building was one of fourteen schools constructed in Montgomery County with funding assistance from the Julius Rosenwald Fund. Between 1912-1932, Julius Rosenwald, a Jewish philanthropist and CEO of Sears, Roebuck and Company teamed up with Booker T. Washington and Tuskegee Institute to provide matching grants for the construction of school buildings for African Americans in mostly rural areas of the South. This collaborative effort produced more than 5,000 of these buildings in 15 southern states, 289 of which were constructed in Alabama. This building was placed on the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage in 2001.

First Trustees - Frank Supples, Luke Anderson, John Sankey, Edd Dean, Simon Johnson, Arthur Brown, John Oscar Poole

First Principal - Jacob W. Williams
— Alabama Historical Commission

Tankersley Rosenwald School, Hope Hull, Montgomery County, Alabama


Lucas Hill Cemetery

This is going to be another quick post.  We've previously discussed the Lucas Tavern on the Old Federal Road in Pike Road, Alabama.  Years after the tavern itself was moved to Old Alabama Town, a nearby cemetery from the same time period when the tavern was operating had fallen into complete disarray.  In 2005 the founders of a new Pike Road community, The Waters, arranged to move the cemetery a few miles south and take over its care.

You can see the historical marker, it's transcription, and a couple of photos of the cemetery itself below.

Lucas Hill Cemetery historical marker, Pike Road, Montgomery County, Alabama

Lucas Hill Cemetery
Circa 1816

The Founders of The Waters relocated and restored this historic cemetery in May 2005. The original cemetery site, located along the Old Federal Road beyond the boundary of the Creek Indian lands at Line Creek, had fallen into ruin due to years of neglect. The Lucas Hill Cemetery is the final resting place for some of the earliest settlers who established plantations and farmsteads along the Mount Meigs Terrace now present day eastern Montgomery County, Alabama.
— The Waters at Waugh, LLC - 2006

Lucas Hill Cemetery, Pike Road, Montgomery County, Alabama

Site of Lucas Hill Cemetery historical marker, Pike Road, Montgomery County, Alabama


The Old Augusta Cemetery

Today we're going to look at one of the early settlements in Montgomery County.  Augusta, Alabama was founded in 1816 by a group from Georgia.  They settled at what would later be known as Ware's Ferry, and for about a decade it looked like Augusta could become the capital of civilization in central Alabama.  Unfortunately, flooding and disease killed the town, and Montgomery rose to prominence.

The first quote comes from a book published by The Society of Pioneers of Montgomery in 1961. Then there are photos of the Old Augusta Cemetery, followed by photos of the historical marker and a transcription of said marker.

At a very early day in the history of the county Montgomery had a rival, in a nice little town twelve miles above the city on the Tallapoosa river. It was located on a beautiful spot on the bank of the river, and had at one time between fifty and seventy-five family residences, with store-houses, hotels, academy, black-smith and wood shops, tailor shops, etc.; but after a few years the place proved to be sickly, and it was abandoned altogether. Augusta was the name of the town. Then everything centered to Montgomery, the only town in the county, and a very small place.
— Recollections of the Early Settlers of Montgomery County and Their Families by W.G. Robertson

Old Augusta Cemetery gate, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama

Old Augusta Cemetery, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama

Gravestone 1, Old Augusta Cemetery, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama

Gravestone 2, Old Augusta Cemetery, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama

Gravestone 3, Old Augusta Cemetery, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama

Old Augusta Cemetery historical marker, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama

Augusta & the Old Augusta Cemetery

Augusta, home of Old Augusta Cemetery, was built on the site of a former Indian village, “Sawanogi”, on high ground close to the Tallapoosa River. In 1824 a disastrous flood swept over the plateau, invading shops and residences. A year later a deadly form of malarial fever took half the population to their graves, killing the town as well. The cemetery, burial place for the Ross, Charles, and Taylor families, continued to be used until the early 20th century. The iron fence surrounding the cemetery formerly was erected around the state Capitol in Montgomery.
— East Montgomery County Historical Society & Alabama Historical Association - 2006

Site of the Old Augusta Cemetery historical marker, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama



I don't have much to add in today's post.  Keep reading to see the transcription of the large stone historical marker standing on the grounds of the Elmore County Courthouse in Wetumpka, which gives a pretty thorough overview of the town's past and founding.

Wetumpka stone historical marker side 1, Wetumpka, Elmore County, Alabama

The land area which now comprises the city of Wetumpka was inhabited by various Indian cultures prior to the inward migration of the white man, at the turn of the 19th century. The largest Indian village near here was located on the east bank of the Coosa River one mile south of this point. This village was known as “Oche-au-po-fau” (Hickory Ground) and was composed mainly of Muscogees. After the 1814 surrender of the Creek Confederacy at Fort Toulouse, there came an influx of settlers to this fertile land, many bringing slaves.

The U.S. Government surveyed the future town site in 1831. A major part of the site east of the river was still Indian territory, but was ceded to the U.S. by the Cusseta Treaty of 1832. That year lots were auctioned to the public. By late 1836, all remaining Indians had been moved to reservations in Oklahoma.

In 1834, the state legislature chartered the town of Wetumpka which was on both sides of the river. The west side was in Autauga County and the east side north of the former Indian boundary line, which ran easterly from the falls, was in Coosa County. The east side south of the Indian boundary line was in Montgomery County, but this latter portion was transferred to Coosa County in 1837.

Wetumpka stone historical marker side 2, Wetumpka, Elmore County, Alabama

The name ‘Wetumpka’ was taken from the Indian words ‘we-wau’ (water) and ‘tum-cau’ (rumbling or sounding), in reference to the noise made by the rocky shoals of the river.

In 1837. the legislature divided the town and incorporated the area on the west side of the river as West Wetumpka. In 1939, the two towns were reunited by the legislature as one city known as the City of Wetumpka. That same year, Wetumpka was chosen as the site for the first state prison.

After the destruction of a prior bridge by flooding, a student, covered bridge was constructed in 1844 by the famous builder, Horace King, a former slave who had been freed by the legislature the preceding year. This covered bridge was located on the same site as the Bibb Graves Bridge. This covered bridge was swept away in the Great Flood of 1886, the same flood which altered the course of the Tallapoosa River and formed Parker’s Island.
— Marker erected by BSA Troop 52

Elmore County Courthouse, site of the Wetumpka stone historical marker, Wetumpka, Elmore County, Alabama


Albert James Pickett

In 1814 William Raiford Pickett was a sheriff, tax collector, and state legislator in Anson County, North Carolina.  He and his wife had three children, the youngest a four year old boy named Albert James Pickett.  When William heard about the Treaty of Fort Jackson and all of the new Creek land available for purchase in the Mississippi Territory, he decided to take part in the land rush.  In 1818 he bought a tract of land in Autauga County in the newly separated Alabama Territory, and established the Cedar Grove plantation and a trading post.  He went on to be a very successful planter and served in both houses of the Alabama state legislature.

Albert James Pickett, from his book History of Alabama

Albert was eight when his family moved to Alabama, so the second half of his childhood was spent on the frontier.  He was mostly self-taught, but did spend a year each studying at private academies in Massachusetts and Virginia.  His older brother, William Jr., was a successful lawyer, so in 1830 Albert decided to study law at his practice.  That only lasted a few months.  Albert's sister, Eliza, had married Moseley Baker, owner and founding editor of The Montgomery Advertiser, so Albert decided to try journalism next.  He discovered that his passion was writing, and it would prove to be his professional focus for the rest of his life.

In 1832 Albert married Sarah Smith Harris and her father, William Harris, gave the couple a 1,100 acre plantation, Forest Farm.  Albert took to the life of a planter, and quickly became one of the first planters in the region to use science to inform his decisions on the plantation.  He even contributed articles to several scientific journals, including The Southern Cultivator, but his principle written legacy came in the field of history.

Albert spent his adult life researching and collecting first-hand accounts of the early settlement of the southern United States.  He also helped to found the Alabama Historical Society.  In 1851 he published his principal work, History of Alabama, and Incidentally Georgia and Mississippi, From the Earliest Period.  It covers the history of what is now the state of Alabama from Hernando de Soto's 1538 expedition until Alabama achieved statehood in 1819, and is still the essential starting point for people interested in Alabama's early years.

In 1858 Albert bought a house in Montgomery, which you can read about here, where he hoped to continue working on his comprehensive history of the southern United States.  Unfortunately, he died before he could move into the house or complete his next work.  He is buried in Greenwood Cemetery in Montgomery, and is remembered today as Alabama's first historian.

Albert J. Pickett historical marker, Autaugaville, Autauga County, Alabama

Albert J. Pickett historical marker, Autaugaville, Autauga County, Alabama

Site of Albert J. Pickett historical marker, Autaugaville, Autauga County, Alabama


Jonesville Community

This is going to be one of those posts where I basically sit back and let the words I've found get the story across.  The Jonesville Community historical marker was placed in Mathews, Alabama to commemorate the life of Prince Albert Jones, Sr.  The first photo is Albert and his wife Essie.  It is followed by a transcription of the obituary for Albert that ran in the Montgomery Advertiser.  After that you'll find photos of the two sides of the the Jonesville Community historical marker, as well as a transcription of that text.  Hope you enjoy this story of an ordinary man who led an extraordinary life.

Prince Albert and Essie Jones (photo courtesy of the "Mathews, AL Facebook Group")

JONES, Mr. Prince Albert, Sr., 91, a lifelong resident of Mathews, Ala., died at his home Sunday, January 13, 2008. The third youngest of 15 children, Prince Albert was born to the late John Wesley and Lura Barnett Jones. He accepted Christ at an early age and was baptized at Holt Street Church of Christ. He placed membership with Clay Hill Church of Christ, where he served as superintendent for a number of years. He later united with Western Blvd. Church of Christ, where he remained a dedicated and faithful Christian soldier until his death. Prince Albert was educated in the public schools of Montgomery County. On May 21, 1939, he married Essie Richard and to this union 15 children were born. Essie, five children, and three grandchildren all preceded him in death. A farmer by profession, Prince Albert raised cows and grew cotton and corn to provide for his family. In response to agricultural changes, he began customer hay farming and became noted throughout rural Montgomery County for his agricultural skills and willingness to lend a helping hand to others. His leadership in the community earned him the Stephen T. Provo Memorial Leadership Award in 1993, recognition by the Montgomery Area Council on Aging as a Senior of Achievement in 2002, and the distinct honor in 2007 the community in Mathews where he lived designated by the Montgomery County Commission as the Jonesville Community. Albert leaves to cherish his memory 10 children, 50 grandchildren, 59 great grandchildren, and a host of other relatives and friends.
— Montgomery Advertiser, January 18, 2008 (slightly edited)

Jonesville Community historical marker, side one, Mathews, Montgomery County, Alabama

Jonesville Community historical marker, side two, Mathews, Montgomery County, Alabama

The Jonesville Community

The Jonesville Community on Old Pike Road in Mathews, named for wealthy landowner George Mathews from Oglethorp County Ga., was designated by the Montgomery County Commission on October 16, 2007 to honor the life and legacy of Prince Albert Jones, Sr. (April 25, 1916 - January 13, 2008) and his family to the community. Jones was born and reared in the area and devoted much of his nearly 92 years of life to helping others in Mathews and the surrounding communities of Cecil, Waugh, Pike Road and Mt. Meigs. A farmer by trade, he supported his family and many of his neighbors with crops he planted. He used his resources (tractors, balers, trucks and other farm equipment and transportation) to help others cultivate their crops and get them to market. He also voluntarily cared for several of the local cemeteries, including New Jerusalem (on the grounds of the old Margaret Beard Elementary School) and Gilmer Cemetery in nearby Pike Road, where he and many of his family members and former residents are buried.

Prince Albert Jones was concerned about the common man and believed deeply in civil and voting rights. Quoting from an article appearing in the “Montgomery Advertiser” on January 18, 2008, Morris Dees, co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, said Jones was one of rural Montgomery’s first registered black voters, when fewer than 1 percent of the county’s black residents were registered. “Mr. Jones was one of the area’s most dedicated advocates for equality and used his good reputation with the white farming elite to help black neighbors and church members obtain the right to vote decades before the enactment of the 1965 Voting Rights Act,” Dees said. Jones was one of 15 children. He and his wife Essie also reared 15 children. They strongly valued Christian living, education and hard work and taught their children and others in the community the importance of working with their minds as well as their hands.
— Alabama Tourism Department and the Jonesville Community - 2010

Location of the Jonesville Community historical marker, Mathews, Montgomery County, Alabama

Figh-Pickett House & Barnes School

The Figh-Pickett House was built in 1837 by John P. Figh, Sr.  Figh was a brickwork contractor, and his portfolio included the original campus of the University of Alabama and the first state capitol building in Montgomery.  Sadly, both were destroyed by fire, but Figh recovered some of stone flooring from the capitol and incorporated them into his home.  His services were retained for the building of the current capitol building in 1850.

The Barnes School in 1934 (photo courtesy of the Montgomery County Historical Society)

In 1858 Figh sold the house to Albert James Pickett.  Though trained as a lawyer, Pickett made his name as Alabama's first published historian.  His two volume History of Alabama was published in 1851, and he was working on a comprehensive Southern history when he bought his new home.  Unfortunately he died before his family was able to move in, but they lived their after his death for nearly half a century.

Following the end of the Civil War, the Union Army forces sent to Montgomery requisitioned the Pickett home for use as their headquarters.  Following their departure, Pickett's widow, Mrs. Sarah Pickett, was forced to operate her home as a bed & breakfast.  Mrs. Pickett died in 1894, and in 1906 the Pickett family sold the home to Elly Barnes.

Justus McDuffie "Mack" Barnes in 1912 (photo courtesy of Alabama Department of Archives & History)

In 1898, Justus McDuffie "Mack" Barnes and his son Elkanah Ruff "Elly" Barnes resigned their teaching positions at Highland Home College to open a new school in Montgomery.  The Barnes School opened in the same year, but Mack only stayed on as a teacher until 1904.  In 1906 Elly bought the Pickett home and renovated it to serve as the new campus for his nearly one hundred students.  The Barnes School operated as the premier private school for boys in Montgomery with Elly Barnes as headmaster until 1942, when the loss of faculty members to serve in World War II forced its closure.  Starting with the one room Strata Academy on a farm in 1856 and ending in 1942 in downtown Montgomery, the Barnes family provided nearly a century of education to central Alabama.  It's only a rumor that I haven't been able to verify yet, but I've even been told that Elly Barnes sold the majority of the school's supplies and materials to another institution that started up later in 1942, Montgomery Bible School.  MBS became Alabama Christian College in 1953, and in 1985 it split into Faulkner University, Alabama Christian Academy and Amridge University, so it's possible the Barnes legacy is still technically alive today.

Following the closing of the Barnes School, the building served as a car dealership, a church, a paint store, and a convenience store.  In 1996 it was slated for demolition to make room for the expansion of the federal courthouse.  The Alabama Historical Commission stepped in and partnered with the Montgomery County Historical Society to save the building and have it moved to its current location.  The Society immediately set about restoring it to a more historical appearance, and the building currently serves as their headquarters. It is the oldest surviving brick home in Montgomery County.   The photos below show the two sides of the Figh-Pickett House historical marker, as well as a current look at the front of the building.

Figh-Pickett House historical marker, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama

Figh-Pickett House

John P. Figh, a native of Maryland, built this, the oldest surviving brick dwelling in Montgomery, ca. 1837, at the corner of Clayton and South Court Streets. Figh was one of the chief contractors for the construction of the Alabama State Capitol. He also served as city alderman. In 1858, Figh sold his house to Alabama’s first historian, Albert James Pickett, from North Carolina. Although Pickett died just before moving in the house, his family lived here for more than 50 years.
— Alabama Historical Association - 1997

Barnes School historical marker, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama

Civil War - Barnes School

In April 1865, the Union Army command made this house its headquarters. Mrs. Pickett hid her silver on an inside ledge of the cupola. Later, former Confederate Generals Hood, Bragg and Walker visited here. In 1906, Professor Elly Barnes bought the house for use as a private school for boys, which rapidly achieved fame for its quality. The Barnes School closed in 1942. In 1996, the house was rescued from demolition with the help of the Alabama Historical Commission and moved to its present location by the Montgomery County Historical Society.
— Alabama Historical Association - 1997

Figh-Pickett House, former home of the Barnes School, current home of the Montgomery County Historical Society


Highland Home College

In our last post we learned about the Barnes family and the establishment of a new community around their plantation and their school Strata Academy.  We're going to pick back up today and focus on the school.

In 1856 Strata Academy was founded in southwestern Montgomery County by Justus McDuffie "Mack" Barnes.  Mack had just returned home with a new degree from Bethany College, and his father decided to help him set up a school.  The first year Mack had thirteen students and classes met on his father's farm, but Strata Academy thrived.  Within a few years they built a new building to the east of the family home, and in 1872 that site became a campus when Mack hired his first partner.  Samuel Jordan also became Mack's brother-in-law, and in 1879 they Colonel M.L. Kirkpatrick married the other Barnes daughter and became the third brother-in-law and third teacher and partner at Strata Academy.  The next three years saw serious sickness, including the deaths of three students, which prompted the trio to look for a new site for the school.  In the end they bought 500 acres on a ridge about six miles to the south, just across the border into Crenshaw County.  The move provided an opportunity to rebrand, and so in 1881 Strata Academy became Highland Home Institute.  In 1889 the name was changed again, to Highland Home College.

The new building was the largest structure in the county, and contemporary reports indicate it may have been the nicest educational building in the entire region.  Here is a photo of the building, followed by a description from Mack's son, Elly Barnes.

It was a two-story frame building, 100 feet long by 50 feet wide. The lower story was divided into four recitation rooms, each spacious, and into smaller rooms for books and apparatus, the entire upper floor was one large auditorium, unbroken by post or other obstruction. A grand hall for concerts or for Christmas celebrations! But it was by no means reserved for such occasional use. Every minute of every school day it was a busy place.
— E.R. "Elly" Barnes, son of Mack Barnes

Kirkpatrick taught at the college until his death in 1892.  In 1898 Mack Barnes and his son Elly decided to start a new venture in Montgomery, the Barnes School.  That institution will be the focus of our next post.  The two Barnes men continued their relationship with HHC as board members.  While the school had seen a high enrollment of nearly 500 students, the onset of World War I, along with the establishment of colleges run by the state, caused declining enrollment.  Mack Barnes died in an automobile accident in Montgomery in 1913, and in 1915 Highland Home College closed its doors with Samuel Jordan still serving as President.  The campus was sold to the state of Alabama for educational use, and Highland Home High School sits on the grounds today.

The next two photos show the Highland Home College historical marker and the location of the marker in front of Highland Home High School. 

Highland Home College historical marker, Highland Home, Crenshaw County, Alabama

Site Of Highland Home College

A pioneer institution organized in 1889 by Justus M. Barnes, Samuel Jordan and Milton L. Kirkpatrick. This was an extension of Strata Academy, founded in 1856 by Barnes six miles north at Strata. In 1881 Strata Academy was moved to Highland Home and the name changed to Highland Home Institute. From its inception, the school was coeducational. It brought culture to frontier Alabama —- music, foreign languages, science, literature, and drama as well as “the Three R’s.” Although never a religious institution, Bible courses were offered. Its graduates provided the State many distinguished citizens. When the economics of competing with state normal schools forced it to close its doors forever, in 1915, it had served Alabama continuously for 59 years. The trustees deeded this property to the State of Alabama in 1916 for educational use.
— Erected by the Barnes, Jordan, Kirkpatrick Memorial Association - 1977

Setting of Highland Home College historical marker, Highland Home, Crenshaw County, Alabama


Fair Prospect Cemetery

First, let me apologize for the unscheduled two week break.  My computer was acting up, and in the end I got a new PC and I'm running Windows 10, and everything seems to be going smoothly now.  Second, we're going to do a bit of a series with the two posts this week and the first post next week.  Today we're going to start with a hidden cemetery on a little bluff above US-331, but it's going to eventually lead to the birth of organized education in central Alabama.

In 1828 a twenty-three-year-old preacher from Georgia named William McGauhy came through central Alabama.  His evangelistic efforts ended with the establishment of the Fair Prospect Church, the oldest Restoration Movement church in the state, and one of the twelve original members was seventeen-year-old Mary Lumpkin.  Two years later Mary married Elkanah Barnes, and six years after that they had their first child, Justus McDuffie Barnes, better known as Mack.  By the time Mack was 11, he had two little sisters, and the Barnes family moved from their one room log cabin into a new plantation house.  Mary intended to name the home, and the community around it, after the Greek geographer Strabo.  Unfortunately, the postal service misread her letter, and so the new post office was named Strata.  In 1854, the Barnes family sent Mack to study at Bethany College, a liberal arts school in West Virginia founded by Alexander Campbell in 1840.  Mack finished his degree in only two years, and returned to his father's farm unsure of what to do next.  His father encouraged him to teach, and so in September 1856 Strata Academy was founded with thirteen students on the Barnes plantation.  We'll return to Strata Academy in our next post.

16th century engraving of Strabo (public domain)

The Fair Prospect Church was thriving in the 1850s, and they had established a cemetery adjacent to the building.  The oldest extant graves date back to 1851.  In 1870, the church building was struck by lightning and burned to the ground.  The congregation left the cemetery in place but started meeting in one of the new Strata Academy buildings a little less than two miles north on present-day US-331.  The Academy left the property in 1881 (we'll cover the reasons in our next post), and the old Fair Prospect congregation still meets to this day on that site as the Strata Church of Christ.

The Fair Prospect Cemetery is still in use as well, even if it is a little hard to get to.  Elkanah and Mary Barnes are both buried there, and there is a memorial for Mack, but he is actually buried in Montgomery.  Below you'll find photos of the cemetery's historical marker, the memorial for Mack Barnes, the entrance to the cemetery along US-331, and the current Strata Church of Christ building.  The map shows the cemetery historical marker, but if you follow US-331 about 1.7 miles north you'll find the current church building on the right side of the road at Hickory Grove Road.

Fair Prospect Cemetery historical marker, Montgomery County, Alabama

Fair Prospect Cemetery
Montgomery County

Atop this hill lies Fair Prospect Cemetery, established in the 1840s as part of Fair Prospect Church. Land was donated for the church and cemetery by Benjamin Mitchell (1765-1848) and his wife Jane Scrimpton Mitchell (1775-1850). The location of their graves is unknown. The earliest marked burials date to 1851 and the cemetery is still active today. Justus M. Barnes, founder of Strata Academy, was a leader in the congregation and his parents are buried here. In the 1870s, the church burned after lightning struck it and the congregation began meeting at Strata Academy. When the Academy moved and became Highland Home College, the church retained the campus building on the site of Strata Church of Christ. A.S. Naftel, founder of the Naftel community, acquired much of the Mitchell lands after 1850 and members of his family are buried here.

Listed in the Alabama Historic Cemetery Register
— Jay & Ruth Mitchell Ott, Descendant of Bejamin Mitchell - 2011

Memorial to the founders of Strata Academy, Fair Prospect Cemetery, Montgomery County, Alabama

Barnes, Jordan, Kilpatrick

Preachers, teachers, planters,
when this was wild frontier,
taught with love unstinted,
helped bring religion here.
Kith and kin take notice.
These leaders neath this sod
shaped a growing country
their monument to God.

— Erected in loving memory by Dr. M.B. Kirkpatrick

Entrance to Fair Prospect Cemetery, Montgomery County, Alabama

Strata Church of Christ, former site of Strata Academy, Montgomery County, Alabama


Court Square

I don't have a ton of information to add to the text of the historical markers in today's post, but I think it's a pretty interesting look into the founding of Montgomery nonetheless.  Following the end of the Creek War and the ceding of Creek lands to the U.S. government, General John Scott led the first group of settlers to buy land in Montgomery County.  They established Alabama Town about two miles down the Alabama River from present-day downtown Montgomery in 1817.  A few months later, a second group led by Andrew Dexter, Jr. bought another parcel of land to the east of Alabama Town.  The Dexter group named their town New Philadelphia, and it immediately began outpacing Alabama Town.  This prompted the Scott group to relocate closer to New Philadelphia, and start over with East Alabama Town.  

Though the two towns initially saw themselves as rivals, on December 13, 1819 they merged to become Montgomery.  The only lasting evidence of Montgomery's split origin is the orientation of the streets on either side of Court Square, with the New Philadelphia streets running north-south and east-west while the East Alabama Town streets run parallel or perpendicular to the Alabama River.

The first two photographs show Court Square looking north towards the former site of East Alabama Town, both in 1867 and today.  After that you'll see the two sides of the City of Montgomery/Court Square historical marker, along with transcriptions of both sides.  The final photos show a plaque on the ironwork of the fountain, along with a closeup of the fountain itself.

Court Square looking north in 1867, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama (photo courtesy of Alabama Department of Archives & History)

Court Square looking north, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama

City of Montgomery historical marker, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama

City of Montgomery

Two small villages, New Philadelphia, founded by Massachusetts lawyer Andrew Dexter in 1817, and East Alabama, established by Georgians led by John Scott in 1818, united in 1819 to form Montgomery, named for Revolutionary hero Gen. Richard Montgomery. Connecting at Court Square, the two towns’ principal streets were Philadelphia’s Market Street (Dexter Avenue) and East Alabama’s Main Street (Commerce Street). First courthouse stood to west of artesian well which City enlarged in 1850s. Fountain erected in 1885.
— Alabama Historical Association - 1992

Court Square historical marker, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama

Court Square

Historic hub for business in Montgomery. Exchange Hotel built in 1848 on NW corner of Commerce and Montgomery Streets; rebuilt 1906; demolished 1970s. Cast iron-fronted Central Bank of 1856 on NE corner of square; Winter Building, site of telegraph office in 1861, on SE corner since 1840s. Historic processions passing along Dexter Avenue to the Capitol included Jefferson Davis Inaugural, 2/18/1861; Gen. J.H. Wilson’s Cavalry Corps, 4/12/1865; 167th Infantry Regt. Rainbow Division, 5/12/1919; Selma-Montgomery Civil Rights March, 3/25/1965.
— Alabama Historical Association - 1992

Court Square Fountain plaque, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama

Court Square Fountain

Placed by City over Artesian Basin and crowned by Hebe, Goddess of Youth and Cup-bearer to the Gods. Fountain was cast by J.L. Mott Iron Works of New York. Restored by Robinson Iron of Alexander City in 1984 during administration of Mayor Emory Folmar.

Court Square Fountain, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama


Kowaliga Cabin

As we've discussed in a previous post, country music legend Hank Williams was born in Alabama, and spent the majority of his short life here.  In September 1952 he was staying in a cabin on Lake Martin and writing songs.  One of the local place names was Kowaliga, named after a former Creek town.  There was also a life-size wooden carving of an Indian near the lake that locals called Kowaliga, and the statue inspired Williams to write one of the last songs of his career, "Kaw-Liga".

Hank Williams Cabin, Children's Harbor, Eclectic, Elmore County, Alabama

The story names the statue Kaw-Liga, and has him falling in love with another statue of an Indian maiden in the local antique store.  "Kaw-Liga" was recorded during the last recording session of Williams' life, at Castle Studio in Nashville, Tennessee on September 23, 1952.  That sessions also produced "I Could Never Be Ashamed Of You", "Take These Chains From My Heart", and "Your Cheatin' Heart".  While "Your Cheatin' Heart" is now widely considered Williams' masterpiece, it was actually released as the B-side to "Kaw-liga", which was Williams' first posthumously-released single.  "Kaw-liga" also spent 14 weeks at number one on the country charts, compared to only 6 weeks for "Your Cheatin' Heart".

In 1990, the area around the cabin was dedicated as the Lake Martin campus of Children's Harbor.  If you're not already familiar, click the link and check out their website.  Children's Harbor is a great non-profit that was set up to provide a recreation area for long-term seriously ill children and their families.  In 2001 they restored the old cabin, but more importantly opened a second facility at the Benjamin Russell Hospital for Children in Birmingham, Alabama.

The historical marker dedicated to the cabin, along with a transcription of the text and a map showing the location of the marker, are included below.  The actual cabin is inside the entrance to Children's Harbor.

Kowaliga Cabin historical marker, Children's Harbor, Eclectic, Elmore County, Alabama

Kowaliga Cabin historical marker setting, Children's Harbor, Eclectic, Elmore County, Alabama

The Hank Williams Kowaliga Cabin

At this site stands the cabin where country music legend Hank Williams composed he song “Kaw-liga” in August, 1952. The song’s title was derived from the name of a Creek Indian town located on the banks of the Kowaliga Creek until 1836.
Hank’s September 23, 1952 recording of “Kaw-liga” reached number one on the country music charts in 1952 and has since been recorded by numerous country and popular music artists.
Built in 1946 by Darwin and Neil Dobbs, the cabin was restored to its original condition in 2001 by Russell Lands, Inc. as a tribute to Hanks Williams and his music.
— Alabama Historical Association - 2002


Located on a pronounced eastward bend in the Tallapoosa River about 20 miles east of downtown Montgomery, Tukabatchee was once the major Creek town in what has now become southern Alabama.  One legend says Tukabatchee is the birthplace of the Green Corn Ceremony, a harvest ritual practiced throughout Creek and Seminole society.  Tustanagee Thlucco (Big Warrior), principal chief of the Upper Creeks in the early 1800s, lived in Tukabatchee until his death in 1826.  Opothleyahola (Good Shouting Child) was born in Tukabatchee in 1798, and eventually rose to the position of Speaker of the Chiefs.  But Tukabatchee is most remembered for a famous visit.

Tecumseh and Tenskwatawa came to Tukabatchee in 1811 to convince the Creek Nation to join their pan-tribal campaign against encroaching European society.  Tecumseh's ideas met with some support, but the combination of Big Warrior and Benjamin Hawkins, Indian Affairs agent, was successful in keeping the Creek Nation out of Tecumseh's machinations.  Tukabatchee remained a thriving town until the Treaty of Cusseta ceded all Creek lands east of the Mississippi River to the U.S. government.

In 1929, the Alabama Anthropological Society commissioned a plaque to mark the spot of what they called Tukabahchi.  That stone can be seen below.  It current sits in from of City Hall in Tallassee, but presumably it was originally placed much closer to the actual site of the town.

Old Tukabahchi marker, Tallassee, Elmore County, Alabama

This stone placed at the Great Council Tree marks the site of Tukabahchi 1686-1836

Capital of the Upper Creek Indian Nation. Here were born Efau Haujo, great medal chief, and Opothleyaholo, Creek leaders. Big Warrior resided nearby. Here came Tecumseh in 1811 to arouse the natives against the white settlers and was successfully opposed by Col. Benjamin Hawkins, principal agent for Indian Affairs south of the Ohio River. Here in 1823 Lee Compere established a Baptist mission school.
— Placed May 13, 1929 by the Alabama Anthropological Society

Old Tukabahchi marker in from of City Hall, Tallassee, Elmore County, Alabama

The Alabama Historical Association placed a modern marker honoring Tukabatchee just west of its home bend in the Tallapoosa in 2011.  The reverse side of the marker contains the exact same message as the front, but this time written in Muskogee.

Tukabatchee historical marker, Elmore County, Alabama


On this bend of the Tallapoosa River, stretching out before you, lay one of the ancient towns of the Muscogee Creek People, called Tukabatchee. Tukabatchee is one of the original four mother towns of the old Creek Confederacy. Tukabatchee served as one of the Creek Confederacy capitals in the Upper Creek region on the Tallapoosa River. In the fall of 1811, Tecumseh of Creek and Shawnee ancestry came here to his mother’s town to persuade the Nation’s warriors to adopt his ideas of rejection of the presence of American intruders and return to traditional ways. Tecumseh’s visit to Tukabatchee represents the beginning of a series of events that resulted in the Creek War. Tecumseh addressed the nation gathered here and gave his war speech where he persuaded some Upper Creek warriors to take the war walk against the intruders. The Creek Confederacy was not totally unified in this nativistic movement which led to the Creeks fighting each other causing the Creek Civil War of 1813-1814.
— Alabama Historical Association - 2011

Tukabatcee historical marker reverse side written in Muskogee, Elmore County, Alabama

Setting of the Tukabatchee historical marker, looking in the direction of the former town, Elmore County, Alabama


The Marks House

The Marks House from the south, Pike Road, Montgomery County, Alabama

For about five years around 1930, the small town of Monroeville, Alabama was home to two children who would go on to literary fame.  Harper Lee was born and died in Monroeville, and we'll discuss her in depth in later posts, but Truman Capote was only passing through.  He had been born in New Orleans, and before he was 10 he had moved to New York City, but for five years he lived in rural Alabama, and those years were recounted in several of his works.

Truman Capote and Harper Lee signing copies of In Cold Blood - 1966 (photo courtesy of Steve Shapiro/Corbis)

Two years after the release of his masterpiece, In Cold Blood, Capote's short story "The Thanksgiving Visitor" was published in the November 1967 issue of McCall's.  The story is, at least in part, autobiographical, and deals with a young boy and his struggles with the local bully.  The same year the story was published, a TV movie version aired.  The Thanksgiving Visitor starred Geraldine Page, and she earned her second Emmy for the role.  It was also filmed right here in Montgomery County, at the Marks House.

North side of the Marks House, Pike Road, Montgomery County, Alabama

The Marks House was originally built in 1825 by William Mathews Marks.  Additions were made by members of the Churchill Marks family in the 1920s, and in 1957 the home was sold to Dr. Woody Bartlett.  The house was the set of the film a decade later, and a year after that began its stint as the Pike Road Community Club Center, a role it still fills today.

South side of The Marks House, Pike Road, Montgomery County, Alabama

The Marks House historical marker, Pike Road, Montgomery County, Alabama

Marks House
Circa 1825

Built by William Mathews Marks, who immigrated from Oglethorpe County, GA, on acreage purchased from the U.S. land office in Cahaba, AL for $1.25 per acre.
Foundation is pegged-together heart pine; framing is 3” by 9” timbers; mantles, dados, and all the brick are hand made. Kitchen, baths a rose garden and pavilion for dancing were added by the Churchill Marks family in the 1920s. House was purchased by Dr. Haywood B. (Wood) Bartlett in 1957.
In 1967, the movie of Truman Capote’s “Thanksgiving Visitor” was filmed in the house. The facility has served as the Pike Road Community Club Center since 1968. The Pike Road Arts and Crafts fair is held here annually on the first Saturday in November. The house suffered extensive fire damage on August 28, 1997 and was subsequently restored by the Pike Road Community.
— Alabama Historical Association - 1998

Bethel Cemetery

The Alabama Baptist Association was formed on December 13, 1819 by four congregations from the area surround Montgomery: Antioch, Elim, Rehobeth, and Bethel.  The Bethel congregation was just north of the Old Federal Road in Pintlala.  The building is gone, but their cemetery is still standing and being maintained by the Pintlala Baptist Church just south on the Mobile Highway.

The Bethel Cemetery was opened in 1819, so it is old, but that alone might not have been enough to warrant a historical marker.  This cemetery's claim to fame is an odd marker placed in 1923 commemorating an event that took place in 1837.  A missionary movement was sweeping through the Baptist faith in the 1800s, and eventually made its way to the Bethel congregation.  Just like in many other congregations both before and after, the Bethel congregation developed a division over the missionary concept.  One group was in favor of this missionary movement, and wanted to make an active effort to go out and recruit new followers, both at home and abroad.  This group became known as Missionary Baptists.  The other group held tightly to the Calvinist idea of "the perseverance of the saints", which essentially means that God chose all of the people who would follow him before the world was created.  If all of the believers had already been chosen by God, there was no need to go "recruiting".  This group was known as Primitive Baptists.

In 1837, this disagreement came to a head at the Bethel Baptist Church, and the Primitive members voted to exclude their Missionary members from the congregation.  The Missionary Baptists formed the original Pintlala Baptist Church, which only lasted five years but was revived several decades later.  The Primitive Baptists continued to meet as the Bethel Baptist Church, but their membership declined and the congregation disbanded in the early 1900s.  The Women's Missionary Union placed the original stone marker at the Bethel Cemetery commemorating the split of the Bethel Baptist Church in 1923, and in 1998 the Pintlala Baptist Church was able to acquire the cemetery property and begin a much needed restoration project.  The following year the cemetery was placed on the Alabama Registry of Landmarks & Heritage, and the year after that the Alabama Historical Association placed the new historical marker.

The next few photos show the cemetery gates, the stone marker commemorating the split, and the modern marker.  Transcriptions of both markers are also included.

Bethel Cemetery gate, Pintlala, Montgomery County, Alabama

Bethel Baptist Church split marker, Bethel Cemetery, Pintlala, Montgomery County, Alabama

Bethel Baptist Church
Feb. 13, 1819
Elder Eleclius Thompson, JaS. McLemore, Edward Mosley, Builder, Geo. Shackleford
Split of Primitive and Missionary
Site marked Nov. 4, 1923

Bethel Cemetery interior, Pintlala, Montgomery County, Alabama

Bethel Cemetery historical marker, Pintlala, Montgomery County, Alabama

The Bethel Cemetery

Bethel Cemetery was constituted Feb. 13, 1819 and located on Federal Rd. Bethel Church was 1 of 4 churches in the Alabama Baptist Association which was formed on Dec. 13, 1819. On July 22, 1837, the church became the object of a major split in Baptist life. In Oct.. Missionary Brethren were excluded from the church and the split became final. A marker memorializing the division between the Primitive and Missionary Baptists was placed in the cemetery by the Montgomery Baptist W.M.U. on Nov. 4, 1923. Pintlala Baptist Church acquired the cemetery in 1998.
— Alabama Historical Association - 2000

Setting of the Bethel Cemetery historical marker, Pintlala, Montgomery County, Alabama


Remount Depot

Well, I missed my first post date last Thursday, but we're going to get back on track today.  Starting in the early days of the Civil War, the United States Army decided to start providing horses and mules for all cavalry and artillery units with funding from the federal government.  In previous wars, work animals were often provided by the officers of individual units.  Procurement and training of horses and mules was provided by the Quartermaster Corps, and in 1908 the Remount Service was set up as a division of that Corps.  Purchasing centers were established in Idaho, Virginia, Kentucky, Wyoming, Texas, Colorado and California, while Fort Reno in Oklahoma was established as processing and distribution center for the new military animals.  In 1918, the Remount Service even ventured into breeding its own new horses and mules.

U.S. Army Remount Service site in Wyoming in 1927 (photo courtesy of Wyoming State Archives)

The U.S. Army established Camp Sheridan on the north side of Montgomery in July 1917, and we'll cover the camp in more detail in a future post.  That same summer a remount depot was established on a 160-acre plot closer to downtown.  The depot was built near the Keyton Station train stop, while Camp Sheridan was established near the Vandiver Park stop.  The new depot had room for 5,000 animals, and including a blacksmithing school to train new farriers.

The next two pictures show the two sides of the historical marker, and as always I've included the transcriptions.  The third photo shows the marker's current setting.

Remount Depot historical marker, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama

Remount Depot

During World War I, in the summer of 1917 the U.S. Army opened a remount depot here to buy horses and mules for Camp Sheridan’s 27,000-man 37th Division from Ohio. Despite the introduction of motor transport to war, a U.S. infantry division still needed nearly 4,000 horses and 2,700 mules as draft, riding and pack animals to pull 40-wagon trains, guns and field ambulances in 1918. This post occupied 160 acres alongside the Central of Georgia R.R. on the highest elevation within 20 miles of Montgomery.
— The Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce Historical Preservation and Promotion Foundation - Alabama Historical Association - 1996

Reverse of Remount Depot historical marker, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama

Keyton Station

Major K.F. Schumann commanded this depot during most of the war. It had a capacity of 5,000 animals with 14 corrals and 14 packing chutes at the railroad platform. About 300 officers and men were in the permanent party and a blacksmith school trained 300 farriers. Troops were quartered south of the railroad and the animals kept to the north. The Remount Depot closed June 1919. The railroad stop here was called Keyton Station.
— The Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce Historical Preservation and Promotion Foundation - Alabama Historical Association - 1996

Location of the Remount Depot historical marker, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama


The Camellia State

This is a pretty crazy week for me in my real job, so prepare for a bit of a "fluffy" post.  Let's talk flowers!

Camellia closeup (public domain photo)

In 1959, the Alabama State Legislature named the Camellia the state flower of Alabama.  Here's the specific law on the books today:

Title 1.
SECTION 1-2-11.

State flower; state wildflower.

(a) The camellia, Camellia japonica L., is hereby designated and named as the official state flower of Alabama.

(b) The oak-leaf hydrangea, Hydrangea quercifolia Bartr., is hereby designated the official state wildflower of Alabama.

(c) Specimens of the state flower and state wildflower shall be deposited in the Auburn University Herbarium.
— The Code of Alabama

The Goldenrod, former champion (public domain photo)

The plot thickens though, because the Camellia is a usurper.  In fact, it's a foreign usurper.  Alabama's original state flower was the Goldenrod, and from 1927 to 1959 everyone was happy with that.  The Yellowhammer was also the state bird, so they even had a color theme going.  In the 50s, one group started arguing that the goldenrod can't be the state flower, because it's really just a weed.  The fact that this group grew camellias was completely unrelated to their protestations.  They appealed to a state legislator, and in August 1959 the Camellia's coup was complete.  But why the camellia?  What tied it to Alabama?

Camellia invades America, conquers Alabama (public domain photo)

It turns out, there isn't much about the Camellia that screams "Alabama!".  Camellias are actually from East Asia, and the Camellia japonica specifically is native to the southern regions of Korea and Japan, as well as a region in China just across the East China Sea.  The oldest known camellias in Europe are in Campo Bello, Portugal, and were planted around 1550.  The camellia didn't make it to North America until 1807, when it was originally sold as a greenhouse plant.  The best connection I can make between Alabama and the camellia is that they've both been a part of the United States for about the same length of time.

The historical marker commemorating the Camellia's rise to Alabama supremacy can be seen next, along with a transcription of the text and a shot of the marker's surroundings on the northern end of the Capitol grounds.

Camellia, State Flower historical marker, Capitol Hill, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama

Camellia Designated Alabama State Flower

The Alabama Legislature approved a bill sponsored by Rep. T.E. Martin of Montgomery County in 1927 that designated the Goldenrod the official state flower. It became law on Sept. 6, 1927, the same day that the Yellowhammer became the official state bird.

In 1959, camellia growers in Butler County argued that the goldenrod was a weed and convinced State Representative Folsom LaMont Glass of Greenville (The Camellia City) to introduce a bill naming the Camellia as the official state flower. The measure passed on August 26, 1959, and was signed by Governor John Patterson.

Because there were numerous types of camellia, the 1999 Legislature specified that the Camellia japonica L. to be the official state flower. The same day the Oak-leaf Hydrangea, native to the state, was named the state wildflower.
— Marker erected during The Year of Alabama History - 2009

North side of Capitol Hill, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama