Days Gone By - stories from the past

Native American town Atagi disappears and becomes Autauga County [photographs]

(Autauga was created before Alabama became a state. This story tells the names of many of the early settlers with links to their biographies.)


Autauga County, Alabama

Autauga County was created by the legislature on 1818 Nov. 21. The county was named for a Native American town Atagi (see Atagi DAR) now Autauga, which was located on the western bank of the Alabama River where Atagi creek (now Autauga Creek) ran through the county and joined the river.

It was first settled after the Creek Indian War terminated in 1814 by farmers looking for fertile soil in the area. Autauga was originally part of Montgomery County, but the territorial legislature of St. Stephens created the new county of Autauga on November 21, 1818 before Alabama became a State.

Autauga County Courthouse in Prattville, Alabama

By Act of 1820 Dec. 13, the boundaries in the north and northwest were enlarged and on 1827 Jan. 12 the line between Autauga and Shelby counties was more definitely fixed. The Act of 1820 stated that Court should be held at Jackson’s Mill on Autuaga Creek.

Village of Atagi was abandoned

On November 22, 1819, the territorial legislature appointed Robert Gaston, Zachariah Pope, Alexander R. Hutchinson, Alsy Pollard, Zacchaus Powell to select the site for a permanent county seat and to contract and supervise the construction of a courthouse, jail and public pillory. The Indian Village of Atagi was abandoned by 1817 and the town of Washington was established on the site, named after George Washington.

Captain J. P. House, General Thomas Woodward, and Dr. Alexander Hutchinson invested in the land at Atagi and offered to give the county land for the public buildings if they were located at Washington and the offer was accepted by the commissions. The brick courthouse was built by Moulton and Murphy and the woodwork was completed by Mount. The first hotel was built by Captain House and the jail was built by Thomas Keith.

Location of Autauga County, Alabama
Location of Autauga County, Alabama

In 1866 part of its territory was taken to establish the new county of Elmore. In 1868 another portion of the county was taken to establish Baker, later known as Chilton County. The word “Autauga” comes from the Indian village Atagi, located on the Alabama River at the mouth of Autauga Creek.

Earliest Settlers

Some of the earliest settlers were John Mathews with his sons: Wade Cox, Kitchens, Holbrooks, David Goss, Moulton, Murphy, Charles Rush and Abe Graham. One of the first attorneys was Edwin Fay and the first merchants were Lynch, Tod Robinson, Holbrooks and Doster, Pickett and Lot Porter. Wade Cox owned the tavern and operated the ferry.

Rev. Mark Howard was the Methodist minister and Capt J. P. House was the sheriff and the first county judge was Ashby and the next county judge was Ed Terry. First physicians were Hutchinson and Edwards. Alvin A. McWhorter was the third judge until the county seat was moved in 1830 to Kingston. Henly Brown, formerly the county clerk was appointed judge after McWhorter resigned. Henly Brown continued in public office until he retired from public life due to his health.

There were five post offices in Autauga County

John A. Elmore. Sr., the chief justice of the Court of Justices of the Peace presided over the first trial on April 12, 1820. There were five post offices in Autauga County, Coosada, Washington, Vernon, Independence, and Statesville. All have all but disappeared. Coosada still exists in a small way in Elmore County. Coosada (Koasati) was an Indian town site and William Wyatt Bibb, the first governor of Alabama settled there in 1818.

“The first property owners were: D. H. Mayhew, Ross A. Pope, John D. Bibb, John McRhea, Bolling Hall, J. B. Clopton, Ann T. Robinson, Mary W. Bibb, Mr. Reese, Mr. Roberts, Mr. Dudley, Mr. Bradford and a square conveyed to Governor Bibb in trust for the ‘Trustees of the Academy.” Today at least half of this square is in the river as the map show the spring at the ferry landing in the center of the square, whereas now the river bank has caved and the spring is at the water’s edge.”

County seat moved to Prattville

In 1868 the legislature removed the county seat to Prattville, which was named after cotton gin manufacturer Daniel Pratt. Other towns and communities include Marbury, Billingsley, Autaugaville, and Mulberry.autauga county historic marker

Autauga County Courthouse in Prattville, Alabama

Autauga County Courthouse in Prattville, Alabama
Autauga County Courthouse in Prattville, Alabama

Among the early residents of the county were, Gov. Wm. W. Bibb, John A. Elmore, Sr., Bolling Hall, Sr., James Jackson, Robert Gaston, Jacob P. House. Francis Lewis, Bent Pierce, Philips and Byrd Fitzpatrick, Nicholas Zeigler. Edmund Gholson, Isaac Funderburg, Levi Kelly, William Hester, Jesse Gay, Josiah Rice, Thomas Harris. James Goss, Thomas Tatum, George Jones, Edmund Foreman, Joseph Riley, Mackey Johnson, Archibald Graham, Richard Bibb, Job Calloway, William Lewis, Joshua Marcus, William Futch, Isaiah Thacker, Aaron Moore, Hiram Bishop, Abram Chancellor, Lewis C. Davis, Thomas C. Smith, William R. Pickett, Mark Howard, Seaborn Mims, Lewis Tyus, Richard Mouton, Wm. Hightower, Jeremiah Jackson, Robert Motley, Robert Broadnax, Edmund Shackleford, John G. Stoudenmire, William N. Thompson, John Mathews, James Mathews, William Peebles, Benjamin Averett, James and Nehemiah Howard, Eli Ely, Lazarus Parker, William Nunn, Thomas Hogg, Dr. N. S. Jones, Benjamin Davis, Dr. A. R. Hutchinson, Organ Tatum, Berry Tatum, S. McGraw, B. Mason, John Lamar, L. Houser, S. Stoudenmire, John McNeel.

Pope Gholson House ca. 1940

Pope Gholson house Prattville, Alabama

Governor William Wyatt Bibb made his home in the vicinity

The county has been the birthplace or home of several persons of distinction. Gov. Wm. W. Bibb, first governor of Alabama, made his home in the vicinity of the present Coosada, there he died, and his remains lie in a private cemetery on his old home place.

In the same community resided John A. Elmore, Sr., a soldier of the Revolution, Bolling Hall, Sr., a former Representative in Congress from Georgia, James Jackson, who represented Autauga County in the first constitutional convention of the State in 1819, and Capt. Albert T. Goodwyn, representative in Congress.

Daniel Pratt founded Prattville and the great gin manufacturing interests which have rendered his name and county famous. In the county also resided for a time Gen. Thomas Woodward, noted Indian fighter; also William R. Pickett, father of Col. A. J. Pickett, the historian; Gen. E. Y. Fair, minister to Brussels; Elder Lewis C. Davis, popularly known as “Club Axe” Davis. The county was the birthplace of Rev. Dr. Samuel S. Harris, Protestant Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of Michigan; and of his niece, Miss May Harris, prominent as an author.

SOURCES

  1. Owen, Thomas McAdory. History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography. Chicago: S.J. Clarke   Publishing Co., 1921
  2. Autauga Genealogical Society

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By (author): Donna R Causey
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About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and www.daysgoneby.me All her books can be purchased at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble. She has authored numerous genealogy books. RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE) is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2) is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series) Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) is the continuation of the story. . For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

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18 comments

  1. […] the meaning of the word, the county was named for the Indian town, Atagi, which was located on the western bank of the Alabama River where Atagi (now Autauga) Creek joined […]

  2. I was disappointed not to read of the Blount family amongst early settlers. Perhaps in another article …

  3. Randy Huggins

    I’d like to see the same for Clark county

  4. Keith Arnett

    Lawrence county too

  5. Kristen Blankenship

    Annette Windham I thought you would like to read this.

  6. Angie Dixon

    Epps Tatum was on the 1816 Tax List Records of Residents for Monroe County, Mississippi Territory. (At the time of this census, Monroe County, which was formed in 1815, included all or part of every present-day county in Alabama except Washington and Madison and those counties that were created later from the Indian Territories.) Would have liked to see him listed one of the early settlers on your list!

  7. Betty Jean Sheffield

    My great great grandmother Popwell,s second husband was Steven Baker that the county was named for. My father, Walter and his brother, Fate, and his father, Madison, had a grist mill and lumber mill at Kincheon on either Mullberry or Swift creek. They later moved to Clanton and had a cotton gin.

    1. There was a grist mill on Mulberry Creek. I have found several old grinding stones in the creek bed over the years. Have never seen evidence of the mill, but my grandfather told me there had been one there (would have been south/east of the Statesville Gin that is still there near Mulberry Creek on Hwy 14)

  8. The article was kind of all over the place and lost the Atagi in the dust, moving to Coosada and Elmore. The town of Washington was still in existence, though abandoned, 20 some-odd years ago. Is on what was at the time, property owned by Union Camp. We used to walk through the woods to the town and there were several homes, a school, barns, church still there. Still had implements and tools, along with some basic furnishings still in the buildings. Don’t know if it’s still there. Could see the “drag” marks from the riverbank up to town, where oxen would drag barges up from the river. Would be interesting to find out if it’s still out there. The towns of Independence & Statesville are still there, also, though not much of them. Vernon is still there; just can’t get to it any more! Is so overgrown!

    1. David Morrison

      Yep. My neck of the woods

  9. Charlotte McCain

    Wow. Didn’t know all that.

  10. If not for Reuben Jordan, half of those early settlers probably would have never came. Reuben first settled near Ft. Toulouse but later moved to Coosa Co. because of yellow fever danger. Reuben Jordan fought in the War of 1812 in the area and liked it so much he talked several families into moving to the area. He brought the Elmores, Bibbs, Fitzpatricks, Ross and other families to the area. Reuben died 1840 Coosa County where the Five Star Plantation is now, just off Historic Hwy. 9.

  11. My 4th great grandfather was Isaac Funderburg born 1751, mentioned above, he was here in 1811. I have an article from the The Alabama Historical Quarterly, Spring Issue, 1941 (these can be found on-line and are free to look through) about him being one of the first jurymen to ever serve in this county. He was back and forth from Edgefield, S. C in 1800 and Georgia but ended up spending time in Autauga and died here on Oct 21, 1835. His widow, Sarah (McCarty) Funderburg lived here until her death 23 Sept 1839. I too wish there were more info for this county.

  12. Trish Funderburg Walls

    My 4th great grandfather was Isaac Funderburg born 1751, mentioned above, he was here in 1811. I have an article from the The Alabama Historical Quarterly, Spring Issue, 1941 (these can be found on-line and are free to look through) about him being one of the first jurymen to ever serve in this county. He was back and forth from Edgefield, S. C in 1800 and Georgia but ended up spending time in Autauga and died here on Oct 21, 1835. His widow, Sarah (McCarty) Funderburg lived here until her death 23 Sept 1839.

  13. Thanks so much for this history! My grgrgrandparents were married in Autuaga Dec. 29, 1847. John William Blalock, and Elizabeth Jane Coker. It’s wonderful to read about the creation of Autauga and its early citizens/settlers.

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

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