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


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


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

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

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.