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

 

"Tee-Tot" Payne

Rufus Payne was born in Lowndes County, Alabama in 1884.  By 1890 his father, a mule-driver, had moved the family to New Orleans.  Rufus was drawn to music, and eventually learned to play jazz and the blues.  He also learned to drink, and was given his nickname "Tee-Tot" as a sarcastic shortening of the term "teetotaler".  By 1915 he was back home in Alabama, and Tee-Tot was developing a musical following.  He would play wherever he could find a job, from Montgomery down to Greenville, and sometimes even further south.  In 1932 Tee-Tot was playing down in Georgiana when he met a 9-year-old boy named Hiram.  Hiram would sell peanuts and shine shoes for all of the workers as they passed through the railroad station.  He already had a guitar, but he couldn't play like Tee-Tot, so he convinced Tee-Tot to teach him.  

Like many Americans during the middle of the Great Depression, Hiram and his mom were always moving, but they stayed in the region so Hiram could play with Tee-Tot.  They left Georgiana for Greenville, then spent a year in Garland before moving back to Georgiana.  In 1937 Hiram and his mom moved to Montgomery, and he started singing in front of the WSFA studios downtown.  That fall he won a talent show at the Empire Theater, and a producer at WSFA invited Hiram to starting singing on the radio.  Hiram decided that Hank was a better name for a country music singer, so Hank Williams was born.  Tee-Tot moved to Montgomery and continued to play with his pupil.  Hank started a backup band, the Drifting Cowboys, and dropped out of school in 1938 to start touring full time.  Tee-Tot died the next year and was buried in an unmarked grave in Lincoln Cemetery.  There are no surviving photographs of Tee-Tot Payne, and he was never recorded playing music, but he left a lasting mark on county music through his star pupil, Hank Williams.

The next few photos show the Rufus "Tee-Tot" Payne historical marker, the reverse side with general information on Lincoln Cemetery, the large stone memorial to Tee-Tot erected by Hank Williams Jr., and the front gate of the cemetery.

Rufus "Tee-Tot" Payne historical maker, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama

Rufus Payne, 1884-1939
’Tee-Tot’, mentor of Hank Williams

Born in Lowndes County, Alabama, Rufus Payne grew up in New Orleans in the midst of jazz musicians. Young Payne learned every instrument possible. At death of his parents, he came back to Greenville where he soon had a following of both races, playing jazz and blues for all segments of society. In nearby Georgiana he met young Hank Williams, an eager student of the rhythm and beat of Tee-Tot’s music. In 1937, Williams moved to Montgomery and soon thereafter Tee-Tot came to the city where he lived until his death in 1939, a friend of Williams’ family and mentor to the singer-composer. Hank Williams stated that Payne was his only teacher. Tee-Tot died a pauper and lies here in an unmarked grave.
— Alabama Historical Association - 2001

Lincoln Cemetery historical marker, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama

Lincoln Cemetery
1907

In 1907 the American Securities Company opened Lincoln Cemetery for African Americans and Greenwood Cemetery for whites, the first commercial cemeteries in the city. Landscape design indicates Olmstead influences with curving drives and two circular sections. Space allotted for 700 graves with first interment in 1908. Most graves are simple concrete slabs with evidences of African-American funerary art and late-Victorian motifs. Marble markers denote members of Mosaic Templars of America, black benevolent society, or graves of veterans. American Securities owned site until tax-exemption ended in 1957. Vandalism and neglect have seriously damaged graves and landscape.
— Alabama Historical Association - 2001

"Tee Tot" Rufus Payne memorial, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama

Tee-Tot

Hank met Tee-Tot around 1933 on the street in Georgiana, Alabama. Tee-Tot helped Hank with guitar chords, rhythm, and was very instrumental in Hank’s learning sing and play the “blues”.

Hank’s mother fed Tee-Tot in exchange for Hank’s guitar lessons. They moved to Greenville, Tee-Tot’s hometown, in the summer of 1934. They continued to work together until the Williams’ moved to Montgomery in July 1937.

Tee-Tot died at a charity hospital in Montgomery March 17, 1939 at about age 55. His death certificate showed a Montgomery address.

Front of Lincoln Cemetery, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama

Some of the people behind the musical Hank Williams: Lost Highway developed a playlist of the kinds of music young Hiram would have likely learned from Tee-Tot, which you can listen to here.  Hank Williams Jr. wrote a song called Tee-Tot, and you can watch him perform that song live here.  

 

The Bus Stop

Rosa Parks.  "The First Lady of Civil Rights".  "The Mother of the Freedom Movement".  Anyone who has ever sat through a U.S. History class knows Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her bus seat, and that arrest led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott.  The Boycott was one of the first effective attacks against the Jim Crow Era in the South, and as a result Mrs. Parks became one of the faces of the Civil Rights Movement.  There are several sites and historical markers dedicated to Rosa Parks, and we'll cover all of them eventually, but today we're going to go to the spot where she took her first step into the spotlight.

Rosa Louise McCauley was born in Tuskegee, Alabama in 1913.  Her father was a carpenter, and her mother was a teacher.  When she was still young, her parents separated, and her mother moved Rosa and her younger brother to Pine Level, Alabama in the extreme southeastern corner of Montgomery County.  When she was 19, Rosa married Raymond Parks, a barber from Montgomery.  He was already a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and with his encouragement Rosa finished her high school diploma and went through the extreme hardships and discrimination that came with registering to vote.

Rosa joined the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP in 1943, and was chosen as the chapter's secretary.  Around the same time, she worked at Maxwell Air Force Base.  Later she worked for the Durr family as a seamstress and housekeeper.  Rosa and the Durrs became close friends, and with their encouragement and backing she spent the summer of 1955 at the Highlander Folk School in Grundy County, Tennessee.  Highlander was dedicated to providing training for anyone who wanted to take an active leadership role in social justice movements.

Now we need to pause to take a quick look at the rules and laws regarding buses in Montgomery in 1955.  An ordinance from 1900 made it legal to racially segregate bus seating, and gave the driver the power to set aside sections for one race, but the ordinance clearly protected anyone from having to give up their seat once they had obtained it.  Over time, that policy was overruled by practice.  By 1955, the standard setup had a sign that marked the first four rows of a bus as "White Only", but the sign could be moved.  Since 75% of all Montgomery bus riders at that time were black, the sign didn't have to be moved often, but if the "White" section filled up, the bus driver could move the sign back a few rows and force anyone sitting there to get up.  This was the system Rosa had experienced her entire adult life.

After her summer at Highlander, Rosa came back to Montgomery and got a job as a seamstress at The Fair Store, located at 28 Monroe Street.  On December 1, 1955 she left work around 6 p.m. and walked out to the closest bus stop to get a ride home.  You can see the spot of the bus stop in the center of the next photo, with the location of the store back and to the right of the small park.

The Bus Ride historical marker, site of the bus stop Rosa Parks used the night she was arrested, Court Square, Montgomery, Alabama

Rosa boarded #2857 and took a seat in the middle section, behind the "Whites Only" sign.  The original bus is now an exhibit at The Henry Ford in Dearborn, Michigan, and you can see a photo of it below.

Montgomery City Lines bus #2857, ridden by Rosa Parks the night she was arrested, The Henry Ford, Dearborn, Michigan (Photo courtesy of Alvintrusty - 2015)

Rosa rode the bus for two stops before it pulled up in front of the Empire Theater at 214 Montgomery Street (current location of the Rosa Parks Library & Museum).  The "Whites Only" section of the bus filled up, so the driver came back, moved the sign back a row and told the four African-Americans seated there to get up.  Three of them complied, but Rosa refused, and the driver called the police. The next image shows the arrest report, with J.F. Blake (the bus driver) as the Complainant, and F.B. Day and D.W. Mixon as the responding officers.  I've also included a transcription of the Complaint.

Arrest report for Rosa Parks, 1 December 1955, Montgomery, Alabama (image courtesy of The National Archives)

We received a call upon arrival the bus operator said he had a colored female sitting in the white section of the bus, and would not move back.
We (Day & Mixon) also saw her.
The bus operator signed a warrant for her. Rosa Parks, (cf) 634 Cleveland Court.
Rosa Parks (cf) was charged with chapter 6 section 11 of the Montgomery City Code.
— F.B. Day & D.W. Mixon

Rosa was booked and spent a day in jail.  E.D. Nixon (president of the Montgomery Chapter of the NAACP) and Clifford Durr (Rosa's former employer and friend, and a prominent social justice lawyer) were able to bail her out the following evening.  We'll end the story here, for now, with Rosa's mug shot.  I know we're just getting to the good stuff, but I need to save something for the other historical markers dedicated to the Movement that finally got off the ground when a seamstress from Alabama decided she was tired of being treated like she didn't belong.

Mug shot of Rosa Parks, 1 December 1955, following her arrest for refusing to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama (photo courtesy of the National Archives)

The following historical marker sits on the former site of the bus stop where Rosa boarded.  The first side discusses the Boycott, while the second gives a brief biography of Rosa.  Photos and transcriptions of both sides are included below, along with another marker placed in the ground by the group who sponsored this historical marker.

The Bus Stop historical marker, Court Square, Montgomery, Alabama

The Bus Stop
The Montgomery Bus Boycott

At the stop on this site on December 1, 1955, Mrs. Rosa Parks board the bus which would transport her name into history. Returning home after a long day working as a seamstress for Montgomery Fair department store, she refused the bus driver’s order to give up her seat to boarding whites. Her arrest, conviction, and fine launched the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The Boycott began December 5, the day of Parks’s trial, as a protest by African-Americans for unequal treatment they received on the bus line. Refusing to ride the buses, they maintained the Boycott until the U.S. Supreme Court ordered integration of public transportation on year later. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led the Boycott, the beginning of the modern Civil Rights Movement.
— Sponsored by Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated during its Centennial Salute, Alabama Historical Association - 2008

Rosa Louise McCauley Parks historical marker, Court Square, Montgomery, Alabama

Rosa Louise McCauley Parks
A Lady of Courage

Born in Tuskegee, AL on February 4, 1913, to James McCauley, a carpenter, and Leona Edwards, a teacher. Moved with mother and brother to Pine Level, AL after parents’ separation. Enrolled in Mrs. White’s School for Girls at age 11 and received her high school diploma from Alabama State Teachers College Laboratory high School. Married Montgomery barber Raymond Parks in 1932, both became active in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), which Mrs. Parks served as local chapter secretary. Family relocated to Detriot, MI in 1957 as result of hostility received after her courageous refusal to give up her bus seat. in 1988, the “Mother of the Civil Rights Movement” was inducted as an honorary member into Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, the oldest African American sorority in the nation. Rosa Parks was the sole class of 2008 inductee into the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame.
— Sponsored by Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated during its Centennial Salute; Alabama Historical Association - 2008

Alpha Kappa Alpha plaque commemorating the placement of The Bus Stop historical marker, Court Square, Montgomery, Alabama

Commemorating the Centennial
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated

Here stood Mrs. Rosa Parks
Mother of the Civil Rights Movement and Honorary Member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
Where she boarded the Montgomery Public Bus
December 1, 1955
— Dr. Barbara A. McKinzie, Centennial International President; Dr. Juanita Sims Doty, Centennial Southeastern Regional Director; Marker dedicated March 2008

As always, I've included a map of the marker at the bottom of the post.  You can also click on the Map link to see the Goat Hill History Master Map, which includes every location we've covered to date.  I'm not going to spoil our next post, but I will say that it involves geology.

 

Manac's Tavern

Today we're going to go back to the same spot we covered in the last post, and talk about the other side of that historical marker.  I mentioned Manac's Tavern, and the fact that two groups of Army trailblazers had met in the middle near the marker to finish the Old Federal Road.  Manac's Tavern was that meeting point, and today we're going to look at the owner and operator, Samuel Manac (or, more often, Moniac).

One of the most interesting ideas I've come across so far in my reading for this blog has been the fact that there were actually quite a few European men who had made their way to Creek and Cherokee territory long before the American Revolution, let alone the creation of the Old Federal Road.  I may do enough digging to eventually do a bigger story about that subject as a whole, but today we're going to start with the Moniacs.  It's hard to tell if it was Sam's father or grandfather, but sometime in the second half of the 1700s a Dutch man named William or Dixon (or William Dixon) Moniac moved into the Creek Nation, probably as a trapper.  He married a Creek woman, and his son (or grandson) was Samuel Moniac.  Sam grew up and also married a Creek woman.  Before we get into his story, we need to meet four more men: William Weatherford (aka Red Eagle, Sam's brother-in-law), Alexander McGillivray (aka Hoboi-Hili-Miko, a Creek chief descended from a Scottish soldier on one side and a French soldier on the other) William Augustus Bowles (aka Estajoca, a man from Maryland who had fought with the British in the American Revolution), and Benjamin Hawkins (U.S. Indian Agent, effectively the American Ambassador to the Creek Nation).  All four men are fascinating in their own rights, and we may come back to them in future posts.

William Weatherford, aka Red Eagle, 1814 (image courtesy of Alabama Department of Archives & History)

Alexander McGillivray, aka Hoboi-Hili-Miko (public domain image)

William Augustus Bowles, aka Estajoca, 1791 (image courtesy of The British Museum)

The first interesting Samuel Moniac story I was able to find has Sam and his brother-in-law William Weatherford going with Alexander McGillivray to New York City.  President George Washington invited a group of 30 chiefs, led by McGillivray and including Moniac and Weatherford, to a conference to establish a treaty between the United States and the Creek Nation. The Treaty of New York was signed in 1790 by all 30 chiefs as well as the U.S. representative, Secretary of War Henry Knox.  All 30 chiefs received silver medals from the President, and are sometimes called Medal Chiefs in later stories.

The next story has Moniac and Weatherford being recruited by Benjamin Hawkins to help him deal with the arrival of William Augustus Bowles in Creek territory.  Bowles was wanted by Spain for trouble he had caused in Spanish Florida, and had come to the Creek capital, Hickory Ground, to try to add the Creeks to his forces.  Moniac, Weatherford and Hawkins went to a Great Council at Hickory Ground in May 1803.  Bowles had convinced the majority of the Creeks to side with him, so when Hawkins announced he was there to arrest Bowles, hundreds of guns were drawn.  Moniac and Weatherford walked straight up to Bowles, tied him up, threw him in a canoe and took off down the Alabama River to turn him into the Spanish authorities.  Their audacity, combined with their reputation and high standing in the Nation, allowed them to escape with the prisoner before anyone could shoot.

The final major story in Samuel Moniac's life starts at another Creek Council, this time in 1811.  Tecumseh, a Shawnee chief from present-day Ohio, was there to convince the Creeks to join his war against the encroachment of American settlers.  Moniac was one of the few Creeks willing to speak out and denounce Tecumseh's plans.  The rise of the Red Stick movement eventually led to the Creek War, and in the summer of 1813 Moniac returned home from a trading expedition to find a group of Red Stick leaders waiting for him.  They wanted him to pledge his support for their side, and he refused.  He escaped on horseback under gun fire, and his plantation and tavern on the Federal Road were burned in retaliation.  There are U.S. military documents that show that Moniac led Creek units that fought on the side of the Americans on at least two occasions, he was said to have led General Ferdinand Claibourne's troops to the Battle of Holy Ground, and it's very likely that he was also part of the Creeks who fought on the side of General Andrew Jackson in the Battle of Horseshoe Bend.  

Samuel Moniac died near Pass Christian, Mississippi in 1836.  He was part of the last major Creek group to leave Alabama on the Trail of Tears.  Nearly a quarter of that group died on the Trail.  Even though Sam had sided with the the United States at every turn, eventually anti-Creek sentiment forced him to leave his home just like almost every other member of the Creek Nation.

As a final side note on the life of Samuel Moniac, his son David also led an interesting life.  David Moniac was invited to attend the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1817, and in 1822 he became both the first Alabamian and first Native American to graduate from West Point.  In 1836, he was the only Native American officer fighting on the side of the United States in the Second Seminole War.  He was killed at the Battle of Wahoo Swamp on November 21, 1836.

Samuel operated a large farm near the Alabama River near Burkville, Alabama in Lowndes County, and he opened his tavern on the Federal Road at the request of Benjamin Hawkins some time after 1800.  The tavern's most famous visitor was Aaron Burr, who spent the night as a prisoner in 1807 on his journey back to Virginia to stand trial for treason.  The first tavern, along with his farm, was burned to the ground by the Red Sticks in 1813, but after the Creek War he rebuilt the tavern.  The first traveler's description of the area to not mention "Manac's Tavern" was written in 1820, so it's likely that by that point Sam and his family had shuttered the business.  The building doesn't survive, but contemporary accounts describe it as a large dogtrot style log cabin, much like this one still standing in north Alabama and built in 1820.

John Looney Pioneer House Museum, Asheville, St. Clair County, Alabama (courtesy of Bjornquist Films)

The historical marker stands about half a mile northeast of the actual site of the tavern, which has been partially excavated by a team from the University of South Alabama in the last decade.  You can read the text in the photo below (sorry for the odd angle, the ground was pretty swampy) or in the following quote.

Manac's Tavern historical marker, Hope Hull, Montgomery County, Alabama

Manac’s Tavern

Manac’s Tavern, located near here and nearby Pinchona Creek, was the oldest stand on the Federal Road. Samuel Manac, the proprietor, in 1791 went with Alexander McGillivray to the U.S. capitol in NYC and met George Washington to conclude a peace treaty for the Creek Nation, the U.S.’s first treaty with a foreign power. He married Red Eagle’s sister, Elizabeth. Aaron Burr stayed here in 1807. In 1822 Sam’s son, David Moniac, became the first Indian and first Alabamian to graduate from West Point. In 1836, in the Second Seminole War, Maj. Moniac was killed at Wahoo Swamp leading a unit of Creek militia against the braves of Osceola, who was his wife’s cousin.
— Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce, Historical Preservation and Promotion Foundation, Alabama Historical Association, 1997

Intersection of Cloverfield Road and Federal Road, Hope Hull, Montgomery County, Alabama

By all accounts, Samuel Moniac lived a fascinating life, and his influence was integral to the early days of Alabama as a Territory and State.  As many stories, or legends, exist around him, he's still somewhat shrouded in mystery.  I found one account of a new book about him being written a few years ago, but I wasn't able to find any updates.  If that book is ever published, maybe we will revisit Mr. Moniac on the blog.  If he really did everything he was purported to have done, he deserves a much higher status in the early annals of Alabama.

Our next post will move north up the Federal Road to another famous tavern.

 

William Rufus King

Today's post takes us beyond the borders of Montgomery County for the first time.  45 miles due west of Montgomery, down the Alabama River, you'll find the town of Selma.  In the 21st century, Selma is synonymous with the Civil Rights Movement, and in the future we'll definitely cover that section of the story.  For the purposes of this post, we're visiting Selma to learn about the highest political office holder who ever called Alabama home, Vice President William R. King.

William Rufus King (portrait courtesy of the Alabama Department of Archives & History)

If we're judging strictly by resume, it's possible that no Vice President has ever been sworn in with more preparation to do the job, but tragically King never performed a single act in his new role.  Before we get to that, let's go back to the beginning.

King was born in North Carolina in 1786.  He came from a wealthy family, and they sent him to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  He was admitted to the North Carolina bar in 1806, and began practicing law soon after in the town of Clinton.  A year later he was elected to the North Carolina House of Commons.  A few years after that he was named city solicitor for Wilmington, and a year after that he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.  For two years he served as part of the U.S. diplomatic team in Russia and then in Naples.  When that appointment ended, King came back to the U.S. and decided to "head West".

In 1818, the Alabama Territory was the West, and King purchased a large tract of land on the Alabama River in Dallas County.  He named his plantation Chestnut Hill, and he eventually owned nearly 500 slaves, making him one of the largest slave-owners in the territory.  This freed King up to serve as a delegate to the Alabama State Convention, and the newly elected state legislature chose him as one of the original U.S. Senators for the state of Alabama.  King served as a Senator from 1819 to 1844, when President John Tyler named him Minister to France, where he worked for two years.  He was re-elected to the Senate in 1848.

The 1848 Whig presidential ticket of Zachary Taylor and Millard Filmore defeated the Democratic ticket of Lewis Cass and William Orlando Butler by around five percent of the vote, but then President Taylor died after a little more than a year in office.  President Fillmore waited until just a few months before the 1852 Whig Convention to commit to running for a second term, and his hesitation likely cost him the nomination.  He had a plurality of the votes, but not the required majority (sound familiar?), and after 51 ballots one of his largest voting blocs switched to back General Winfield Scott.  Scott and his running mate, William Alexander Graham, faced off against the Democratic ticket of Franklin Pierce and William Rufus King in the general election.  This is where it gets strange on a historic level.

King contracted tuberculosis, and at his doctor's advice traveled to Cuba to combat his symptoms.  He was elected Vice President, which led him to resign his Senate seat, in late 1852.  When the inauguration was set for March 4, 1853, King was still too sick to travel to Washington, D.C., so he missed it.  Congress had to pass a Special Act, which allowed him to take the oath of office outside of the country.  On March 24, 1853, William Rufus King was sworn in as Vice President of the United States in Matanzas, Cuba.  Eager to get to work, he made plans to journey to Washington after a stop off back in Dallas County.  He died a few days after returning to Chestnut Hill, Vice President in title but not in action.

King was initially buried near his home, but eventually he was moved to a crypt in nearby Selma's Live Oak Cemetery.  You can read the text of the historical marker honoring him in this quote or in the following photo.

William Rufus de Vane King

-1786-1853-

Native Sampson County, North Carolina. Admitted to bar, 1806. North Carolina House of Commons 1807-1809. U.S. Congressman 1811-1816. Secretary U.S. Legation Naples and St. Petersburg 1816-1818.

Moved to Dallas County, Alabama, 1818. A founder of Selma; named city. Delegate Alabama Constitutional Convention 1819. U.S. Senator 1819-1844, 1848-1853. U.S. Minister to France 1844-1846. President pro tempore U.S. Senate 1836-1840, 1850-1852. Vice President of United State, 1852.
— Alabama Historical Association, 1972

Historical marker for William Rufus King, Live Oak Cemetery, Selma, Alabama

The next two photos show his crypt, as well as view of the surrounding cemetery.

Crypt of William Rufus King, Live Oak Cemetery, Selma, Alabama

Live Oak Cemetery, Selma, AlabamaT

In addition to the historical marker in the Live Oak Cemetery in Selma, another marker was erected twenty years earlier in Matanzas, Cuba.  I wasn't able to find a photo of the marker, but I did find the text, quoted here.

William Rufus King

Vice Presidente De Los Estados Unidos De America

(1786-1853)

By authority of a special act of Congress, he took the oath of office as Vice-President of the United States at Matanzas, Cuba on March 24, 1853.

He came to this beautiful and hospitable land seeking health.

He died at his home in Dallas County, Alabama, April 18, 1853.

The people of Alabama are honored to join with the people of Cuba in commemorating this historical event which so closely ties our two republics together.
— Alabama Historical Association, Marzo 24 de 1953

Finally, I was able to find an old photo of the Prince Charley Oak, which was given to King by the Marquis de Lafayette during his 1825 visit to Alabama.  This was twenty years before King served as Minister to France, so I'm not sure if the gift was simply a result of King's status as a U.S. Senator, or whether their paths had crossed in some other way.  This is the first mention of Lafayette's visit on the site, but I assure you it won't be the last.

"Prince Charley Oak", gifted to King by Lafayette during his 1825 visit to Alabama (photo courtesy of the Alabama Department of Archives & History, 1935)

Alabama has never had a President, and it has only technically had this one Vice President, but that means William Rufus King is still a pretty big deal.  

For our next post, we'll go back to the origins of Alabama Fever.