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


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


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


"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

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


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 Winter Building

We're back to downtown Montgomery for this post.  John Gindrat wasn't one of the original inhabitants of the city of Montgomery, but he was one of the early power players.  He built the first brick house in the city, and served as mayor on two separate occasions.  He also donated part of the land for the original First Baptist Church.  In 1841 he built what would become the Winter Building on Court Square to serve as the Montgomery branch of the Bank of St. Mary's.  John Gano Winter operated the Bank out of Columbus, Georgia, and soon John Gano Winter's son Joseph married John Gindrat's daughter Mary Elizabeth.  In 1848, Joseph Winter and his father-in-law opened a new bank, J.S. Winter & Co., in the Winter Building.  John Gindrat died in 1854, and the building passed to his daughter Mary Elizabeth.

On February 4, 1861, the Montgomery Convention convened at the Alabama State Capitol.  The purpose of the Convention was to organize the preliminary government of the Confederate States of America.  The Convention's most famous attendee was former President John Tyler, who served as one of the delegates for Virginia until his death less than a year later.  The Confederate States Army was established in March, and P.G.T. Beauregard was commissioned as the first Confederate general officer.  He was immediately sent to  Charleston, South Carolina to take control of the siege of Fort Sumter.  That same week, Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated, and was immediately saddled with the Fort Sumter crisis.

On April 6th, Lincoln notified the government of South Carolina that the U.S. was sending supplies to their troops at Fort Sumter, but he did not communicate to the C.S.A. government in Montgomery.  South Carolina governor Francis W. Pickens notified General Beauregard of the pending re-supply mission, and Beauregard sent word back to Montgomery.  C.S.A. President Jefferson Davis met with his cabinet on April 9th, and the decision was made to have Beauregard make one final demand to surrender the fort.  If the U.S. forces refused, Beauregard was ordered to destroy the fort before the supplies could arrive.  The Montgomery office of the Southern Telegraph Company was on the second floor of the Winter Building, and on April 11th the final pre-war communication from President Davis to General Beauregard was sent by C.S.A Secretary of War Leroy Pope Walker.  In local lore, this has gone down as the Telegram Which Began The War Between The States.  This telegram is the Winter Building's biggest claim to fame.

The next three photos show the Winter Building from Court Square in 1890, 1938, and today.

The Winter Building in 1890, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama (photo courtesy of the Alabama Department of Archives & History)

The Winter Building in 1938, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama (photo courtesy of the Alabama Department of Archives & History)

The Winter Building from Court Square, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama

Our next photo shows the front of the Winter Building, followed by the Winter Building historical marker and its text, the reverse side showing the Telegram Which Began The War Between The States and its text, and finally we have a map showing the location of the marker and the building.

Front of the Winter Building from Dexter Avenue, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama

Winter Building historical marker, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama

Winter Building

Built in 1841 by John Gindrat to house the Montgomery branch of the Bank of St. Mary’s. In 1854 was willed to his daughter, Mary Elizabeth, wife of Joseph Winter. On April 11, 1861, Confederate Secretary of War Leroy Pope Walker sent telegram from second floor offices of Southern Telegraph Company to Charleston authorizing Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard to fire on Fort Sumter. Subsequent bombardment was first military action of War Between the States. Building placed on National Register of Historic Places, 1972, and restored in 1978.
— Alabama Historical Association - 1981

Reverse of the Winter Building historical marker, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama

Telegram Which Began War Between The States

Montgomery, April 11, 1861

General Beauregard, Charleston:

Do not desire needlessly to bombard Fort Sumter. If Major Anderson will state the time at which, as indicated by him, he will evacuate, and agree that in the meantime he will not use his guns against us unless ours should be employed against Fort Sumter, you are thus authorized to avoid the effusion of blood. If this or its equivalent be refused, reduce the fort as your judgement decides to be most practicable.

L.P. Walker
Sec. of War, C.S.A.
— Alabama Historical Association - 1981

The Winter Building has been empty for several years now, but it is currently planned as one of the centerpieces of the new Montgomery Market District.

Pike Road School

In 1997, Pike Road became the first incorporated town in Montgomery County other than the city of Montgomery.  However, the community of Pike Road is much older.  In fact, Pike Road was home to the very first consolidated school in Montgomery County all the way back in 1918.

In the fall of 1918, the Montgomery County Board of Education opened the Pike Road School.  It originally sat on thirty acres and cost $40,000.  The school's concept was novel enough to have it included as part of Alabama's exhibit eight years later at the Sesqui-Centennial International Exposition, a 1926 world's fair in Philadelphia.  The school had 27 graduating classes, and from 1945 to 1970 it continued to operate as a junior high school.  

In 2010, the town of Pike Road created the Pike Road Schools system, and on August 13, 2015 the new Pike Road School opened off Marler Road.  The first campus is currently housing kindergarten through eighth graders, and the first school year will conclude in a little over a month.  In October 2015, Pike Road announced they had purchased the old Pike Road School building, as well as the surrounding 26 acres.  Current plans have the building being renovated and re-opened in January 2017.  I've included an artist's rendering of the old Pike Road School property, followed by a rendering of the new school building.

Historic Pike Road School rendering (image courtesy of the Town of Pike Road)

New Pike Road School site rendering (image courtesy of the Town of Pike Road)

The next two photos show the historical marker and a recent shot of the old school building, pre-renovation.  The text of the marker is in the middle.

Pike Road School historical marker, Pike Road, Montgomery County, Alabama

Pike Road School

Montgomery County’s first school to consolidate rural, one-room school houses into grades one through twelve opened November 11, 1918. The school was built by the Montgomery County Board of Education on 30 acres of land at a cost of $40,000 with monies loaned and donated by families from surrounding settlements. Hailed by the U.S. Commissioner of Education when it was featured in the Alabama Exhibit at the 1926 Sesquicentennial International Exposition in Philadelphia, the school subsequently attracted foreign educators from Europe and South America interested in observing the system. The last graduating class was in 1945; the school remained a junior high school until its closing in May 1970.
— Sponsored by the Pike Road School Alumni Association - Alabama Historical Association - 1997

Old Pike Road School building, Pike Road, Montgomery County, Alabama

I definitely plan on revisiting this topic when the building re-opens.  The town of Pike Road encompasses several fascinating old historical communities, and I'll be watching with great interest as they strive to be a fully functioning 21st century town.


Lucas Tavern

This is going to be another post that is largely about the photos, as most of the information I have is recounted in the three different historical markers dedicated to this site.  That being said, let's get into the story.

Lucas Tavern was another waypoint for people travelling through Montgomery County in the early days of the Federal Road.  Travelers were expected to make about 15 miles each day, so if you were heading to New Orleans in 1819 you would almost certainly sleep at Lucas Tavern one night and at Manac's Tavern the following night.  Lucas Tavern was located in present-day Waugh, Alabama, a few hundred yards east of Exit 16 on Interstate 85.  There's a plaque there to mark the original location of the Tavern, but that plaque was placed in 2002.  Another plaque was placed on the same spot by the D.A.R. in 1932, but it was moved to downtown Montgomery in 1980 (along with the building itself).  Today, Lucas Tavern is still standing as the starting point of tours in Old Alabama Town.  The third plaque is in front of the Tavern, and matches all of the other information plaques in front of each of the buildings that make up Old Alabama Town.

The Tavern has two big claims to fame.  It's the oldest remaining building in Montgomery County, and it paid host to a visit from the Marquis de Lafayette in 1825.  Lucas Tavern can be seen from the street, but if you want to go inside you'll have to pay the Old Alabama Town admission fee.  I highly recommend it if you're never taken the tour, and we'll be covering the other buildings in future posts.

These first couple of photos show the marker at the original site of the Tavern, along with the transcription and a shot of its surroundings.  Then you'll see a map showing the location of this first marker.

Lucas Tavern historical marker, Waugh, Montgomery County, Alabama

Lucas Tavern
Circa 1818

Stood 2800 feet north of this point, just west of Line Creek on the Federal Road. Moved to Montgomery in 1978 to serve as the Visitor and Information Center for the Old North Hull Historic District, it is the oldest remaining building in Montgomery County. Original proprietor, James Abercrombie, ran it from about 1818. Walter B. Lucas announced his take over of the tavern in the January 6, 1821 issue of the Montgomery Republican. A four-room frame building with a long central hall, the tavern’s most famous guest was Revolutionary War hero the Marquis de Lafayette who stayed here on April 2, 1825 during his triumphant tour of the United States.
— Sponsored by the East Montgomery County Historical Society, Inc. and Alabama Historical Association, 2002

Setting of Lucas Tavern historical marker, Waugh, Montgomery County, Alabama


Next, we have the nearly century-old marker and its transcription, followed by the Old Alabama Town plaque and its transcription, both near the Tavern's current setting.

Original Lucas Tavern D.A.R. historical marker, now standing next to the building in Old Alabama Town, Montgomery, Alabama

Lucas Tavern

Stood four hundred yards North of this point

Lafayette spent the night here April 2, 1825
— Erected by Peter Forney Chapter (D.A.R.) - 1932, replaced - 1980

Lucas Tavern information placard, Old Alabama Town, Montgomery, Alabama

Lucas Tavern
Early 19th century

Located on the Federal Road near Line Creek (present Waugh) in eastern Montgomery County, this wayside hotel was built prior to 1818 and was owned by at least two other families before coming in the possession of Walter and Eliza Lucas around January 1821. Originally a two room dogtrot, the building was brought to its present form by the Lucas family in the early 1820s. On April 2, 1825, Eliza entertained the Marquis de Lafayette and his entourage in the Tavern during their trip through the state. The family left for new business ventures in Mississippi in 1842, after with the Tavern became a residence and, eventually, a storage building.
The structure was moved to Old Alabama Town and restored in 1980. It is the oldest standing building in Montgomery County.
— Landmark Foundation of Montgomery, sponsored by Hill, Hill, Carter, Franco, Cole & Black, P.C.

Finally, we have two exterior shots of the Tavern and three photos of the interior, followed by a second map showing the Tavern's current location.

Front view of Lucas Tavern, Old Alabama Town, Montgomery, Alabama

Side view of Lucas Tavern, Old Alabama Town, Montgomery, Alabama

Central hallway of Lucas Tavern, Old Alabama Town, Montgomery, Alabama

Front bedroom in Lucas Tavern, Old Alabama Town, Montgomery, Alabama

Rear room with serving kiosk in Lucas Tavern, Old Alabama Town, Montgomery, Alabama


We'll come back to early Alabama history in the future, but our next post is going to move closer to the present.  Thursday we'll look at one of the many historical markers dedicated to an individual who is more synonymous with Montgomery than anyone else, Rosa Parks.

The Old Federal Road

As the 1700s drew to a close, there was no real land route connecting "Washington City" and the rest of the east coast with New Orleans.  Daniel Boone's Wilderness Road could get you to Nashville, but that was the end of the line.  In 1801 President Thomas Jefferson sent units of the U.S. Army to develop the Natchez Trace into a road he wanted to call the "Columbian Highway".  The Trace allowed mail delivery and an established route for extremely adventurous souls, but it was long and treacherous.  Jefferson obtained permission from the Creek Nation to build a "horse path" through their territory in 1805, and he saw that as an opportunity to build another road.

Map of the Old Federal Road (courtesy of the University of Alabama)

Several attempts were made to blaze and survey the horse path, and on November 30, 1811 two groups from the U.S. 3rd Infantry Regiment met in what is now southern Montgomery County, completing the Old Federal Road.  The next six months saw nearly 4,000 "immigrants" travel the Road looking for new land and opportunities.  The Red Stick religious movement was already underway in the Creek Nation, and when that movement turned to violence the Road became a war path.  General Andrew Jackson ended the Creek War at the Battle of Horsheshoe Bend, and the subsequent Treaty of Fort Jackson on August 9, 1814 restarted the big land rush.  The next five years of rapid influx and population rise would come to be known as "Alabama Fever".

The next photo shows the marker that was placed near the location of the spot where the trailblazers met and the Road was completed in 1811.  The reverse side is dedicated to nearby Manac's Tavern, but that will be the subject of our next post.  You can read the text of the marker below in the photo or in the subsequent quote.

The Federal Road historical marker, Hope Hull, Montgomery County, Alabama

The Federal Road

The 1803 Louisiana Purchase acquired 828,000 sq. mi. for the U.S., doubling its size. The Federal Road was built to provide a shorter route from Washington to New Orleans and the new territory. The Treaty of 1805 with the Creeks authorized traversing their lands. Entering Alabama at Ft. Mitchell near Columbus, GA, it came through Mt. Meigs, to Pintlala, Ft. Deposit, Burnt Corn, Ft. Stoddert, then Mobile. The 1814 Treaty of Ft. Jackson made much fertile Creek land available to grow cotton; this lure, “Alabama Fever”, drew many thousands of settlers to central Alabama. In 1860, spans were still in use, but the Road was gone.
— Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce, Historical Preservation and Promotion Foundation, Alabama Historical Association

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

There's a much older marker about two miles west, placed by the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1932.  I've included photos of that marker and its surroundings next.

D.A.R. Federal Road historical marker, Hope Hull, Montgomery County, Alabama

Intersection of Federal Road and U.S. 31 in Hope Hull, Montgomery County, Alabama

My goal in this post was to cover the basic concept of the Old Federal Road.  If you're interested in further reading, there's some great stuff at this website maintained by Auburn University-Montgomery, or if you're really adventurous you can dig into the original report that led to creation of that website.  My next post (or two) will focus on some of the specific locations in the Montgomery area that played a big part in the existence of the Road.