Days Gone By - stories from the past

Baldwin, a county in Alabama where the Court House was stolen [film and photographs]

(This is an almost unbelievable story but is true as local citizens agree. The story of what took place is recounted in the film.)


In the first days of Baldwin County, the Town of McIntosh Bluff (now in Mobile County, Alabama, west of Baldwin County) on the Tombigbee River was the County seat.McIntosh-Bluff-Historical-Marker_2_lwText-z800

In 1810, Blakeley, (now extinct) small village, laid out in 1814, was the seat of justice. Blakely was incorporated in 1820, when the courthouse was erected here, and named for its founder, Josiah Blakeley. It was made a port of entry in 1820.i

Blakeley, Alabama

blakley, alabama

Josiah Blakeley, came from Connecticut to Alabama in search of adventure. Blakeley became a prosperous town, with excellent port facilities and a population of 4,000. The town became a direct competitor with Mobile across the Bay for shipping and maritime commerce.

Today it is merely a memory, killed by early attempts at land speculation and yellow fever. Yet Blakeley remained the county seat until 1868 and was resurrected during the Civil War as an army fort which housed 3,500 Confederate soldiers.”ii The town of Blakeley is now incorporated in Blakeley State Park. 

The scheme to steal the Courthouse is recounted in this film by a citizen of Baldwin County

The seat was later moved to the city of Daphne in 1868. In 1900, by an Act of the Legislature of Alabama, the county seat was relocated  in the City of Bay Minette but the people of Daphne resisted the change. In order to relocate the County Seat in Bay Minette, the men of Bay Minette devised a scheme. “To lure the Sheriff and his Deputy out of the City of Daphne, the men prefabricated a murder. While the law was chasing down the fictitious killer during the late hours, the group of Bay Minette men stealthily traveled the thirty miles to the City of Daphne, stole the Baldwin County Courthouse records, and delivered them to the City of Bay Minette-where Baldwin County’s County seat remains to this day.

Daphne, Alabama sunset

Daphne, Alabama sunset

*”Abraham Baldwin graduated from Yale University after studying both theology and law at the young age of 17 years. In 1784, after serving as an educator and chaplain in the American Revolution, Abraham Baldwin moved to the State of Georgia to take up the practice of law, where later that same year, he was elected to the Georgia State Legislature.

Abraham Baldwin

abraham baldwin

Considered one of Georgia’s earliest progressive leaders, Abraham Baldwin is credited with assisting in the authorship of the Georgia State Charter and with the concept of a complete state educational system which directly led to the founding of the University of Georgia – the first of the state universities. Abraham Baldwin served as the University of Georgia’s first president.

During the  Twenty (20) years Abraham Baldwin spent in Georgia before his death, he had signed the United States Constitution at the Constitutional Convention which formed the United States of America and served in the United States House of Representatives & United States Senate during the Presidential Administrations of George Washington, John Adams & Thomas Jefferson.

When Alabama was still considered the Alabama Territory, before Statehood on December 14, 1819, many of the county’s settlers, who migrated from the State of Georgia, suggested the county be named after Abraham Baldwin to honor his life and accomplishments.

Around the turn of the century, immigrants from many regions of the United States and from other countries began populating Baldwin County: Italians settled in Daphne, Scandinavians in Silverhill, Germans in Elberta, Poles in Summerdale, Greeks in Malbis Plantation, and Bohemians in Robertsdale, Summerdale, and Silverhill. Adherents of the economic theories of Henry George founded a Single Tax Colony called Fairhope; Friends (Quakers) also settled there, while Hooker Mennonites (Amish) found their way to Bay Minette. More recent arrivals have made Baldwin County a virtual melting pot, with the Eastern Shore and Gulf beach areas especially attractive to “snowbirds” and retirees from the North.

SOURCES

i Alabama, her history, resources, war record, and public men By Willis

 

 

ALABAMA FREEMASONS Genealogy Information for the year 1926


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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5 comments

  1. […] of Montrose. Daphne was chosen, but probably not until after 1870. After some controversy over Bay Minette stealing the county seat, the legislature, February 5, 1901, finally named Bay Minette as the seat […]

  2. […] is an intriguing story that the town leaders of Bay Minette devised a scheme to lure the sheriff and deputy out of Daphne with a false story of a murder while a group of men from Bay Minette stole the Baldwin County Courthouse records in the middle of […]

  3. Tarah Thomas

    We have a very similar story locally. A now nonexistent town called Sparta was the county seat. The nearby town of Arcadia was fighting to be the county seat. I don’t recall all the specifics, but a group of men from Arcadia broke into the courthouse at Sparta one night and stole the county records and took them to the courthouse they had built in Arcadia. And Sparta eventually died out. Now it’s just a historic marker.

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