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Scottsboro – Robert Thomas Scott the founder convinced a railroad to run the rail line through his property

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Scottsboro is a city in Jackson County, Alabama, uniquely situated about 30 miles from both the state Tennessee and Georgia and 45 miles from west from Huntsville, Alabama. There was a Cherokee Indian town named “Crow Town” where Scottsboro is located today.It was named for Legislator, Robert Thomas Scott. the founder.

Moved to area of Scottsboro in early 1850’s

Scott ran a hotel in nearby Bellefonte. He and his wife, Elizabeth, moved to the area of Scottsboro in the early 1850’s. The village was known  as Scott’s Mill, Scottsville, and Sage Town.

Sage Town buildings from the 1800s in a beautiful park setting, Scottsboro, Alabama by photographer Carol Highsmith 2010Sage Town: buildings from the 1800s in a beautiful park setting, Scottsboro, Alabama by photographer Carol Highsmith 2010

Scott established a grist mill and a shingle factory and convinced the Memphis and Charleston railroad to run the rail line through his property. The rail traffic soon expanded the local adjacent village, known as Scott’s Mill. He convinced the newly formed Memphis and Charleston Railroad decided to build a station at Scottsboro in 1857.

In 1860, Scottsboro became the county seat. On January 20, 1870, Scottsboro was incorporated and it’s first mayor was named Snodgrass.

Sage Town buildings from the 1800s in a beautiful park setting2, Scottsboro, Alabama by photographer Carol Highsmith 2010Sage Town: buildings from the 1800s in a beautiful park setting, Scottsboro, Alabama by photographer Carol Highsmith 2010

Scottsboro steadily grew

“Between the years of 1868 and 1930, Scottsboro steadily grew from town to city. Sawmills and cotton gins were established in Scottsboro in the 1880s, and by the turn of the century Scottsboro was home to hotels, schools, several law and medical offices, an opera house, and a newspaper. On October 5, 1927, Colonel Charles Lindbergh visited Scottsboro and performed stunts in his aircraft, Spirit of St. Louis, before flying on to Chattanooga.”ii

Sage Town buildings from the 1800s in a beautiful park setting, Scottsboro3, Alabama by photographer Carol Highsmith 2010Sage Town: buildings from the 1800s in a beautiful park setting, Scottsboro, Alabama by photographer Carol Highsmith 2010

Sage Town buildings from the 1800s in a beautiful park setting4, Scottsboro, Alabama by photographer Carol Highsmith 2010Sage Town: buildings from the 1800s in a beautiful park setting, Scottsboro, Alabama by photographer Carol Highsmith 2010

Entered the national spotlight

“Scottsboro remained out of the international spotlight until March 1931, when nine young African American men were falsely accused of rape by two white women. The trial of the so-called “Scottsboro Boys” was held in Scottsboro and marked the beginning of a long legal battle in which the gross inequities of the Alabama justice system became an international spectacle. The trials generated great interest, inspired a number of literary and artistic works, and for generations made the name Scottsboro synonymous with racial injustice.”iii

The Scottsboro Boys case in 1931, went to the United States Supreme Court twice and established forever the principles that, in the United States, criminal defendants are entitled to effective assistance of counsel and that people may not be de facto excluded from juries due to their race.

“In January 2004, amidst television cameras and radio and newspaper reporters, a crowd gathered near the Jackson County Court House in Scottsboro to dedicate a historical marker commemorating the Scottsboro Boys’ trial and their struggle for justice.”

“An 87-year-old black man who attended the ceremony, one of the few who could remember the cases firsthand, recalled that the mob scene following the Boys’ arrest ‘was frightening’ and that death threats were leveled against the jailed suspects. He applauded the town’s move to install the plaque on the courthouse yard. ‘I think it will bring the races closer together,’ he said, ‘to understand each other better.”iv

The Scottsboro Boys Museum was opened in February 2010.

Scottsboro boys museum

iEncyclopedia of Alabama

iiEncyclopedia of Alabama

iiiEncyclopedia of Alabama

ivWikipedia

Note: Corrections emailed by Ann B. Chambliss – 

Robert T. Scott did NOT operate a hotel in Bellefonte before founding Scottsboro. He was a newspaper editor, represented Jackson County in the Alabama Legislature, and served in several appointments at the Federal level.

Two corrections to the above history of Scottsboro:
1. Crow Town was located 15 miles north of Scottsboro. The Jackson County Historical Association placed a historic marker near the site of Crow Town which was near the Tennessee River just south of Stevenson.
2. Scottsboro became the county seat in 1868 – NOT 1860. The county records were moved from Bellefonte to Scottsboro in November 1868.

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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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49 comments

  1. Robbie Bishop

    Love this setting. Would love to live here:)

  2. Patsy Pennington

    This is nice and peaceful yes I would like to live there

  3. Diane Leslie

    I have family in Scottsboro…I love it there!!!

  4. Elisa Sanford

    wonder if he was any relation to any of my Scott line ?

  5. Charles Moore

    Jackson County’s original courthouse was at Bellefonte. The railroad to Scottsboro changed that and was the downfall of Bellefonte.

    1. Deborah Moorefield

      Sauta Cave was Jackson County’s first seat of justice, then Woodville until 1821. At that time, Bellefonte became Jackson County’s county seat. Woodville became the county seat of Decatur County in 1821. The Union Army destroyed and burned most of Bellefonte!

      1. Woodville was never the county seat of
        Jackson County. Woodville was the county seat of short-lived Decatur County.

    2. Charles Moore

      Very true. County records before the early 1850s were burned by Union troops at Bellefonte. This included records for areas that are now parts of north Marshall Co. Records after about 1852 were being kept at Scottsboro and were safe. Very frustrating for anyone with ancestors in that area in the early 1800s.

    3. Tiffani Chanel

      Oh yes, that AWFUL union army. *rolls eyes*

    4. Alabama Pioneers

      Thanks so much for the additional information. We’ll see if we can find more info on Bellefonte.

    5. Deborah Moorefield

      I believe Jackson County was part of the Free State of Nickajack movement as well. Union troops camped inside the courthouse burned various court records. It’s unclear who completely burned the courthouse at the end of the war. Various court records survived and indexes are available for those records. TVA has an excellent online article regarding the Historic Town of Bellefonte.

      1. The Free State of Nickajack never materialized after the Civil War began. There are no extant records that connect Jackson to the Free State of Nickajack.

    6. Charles Moore

      Report on Old Bellefonte: An Historical Site in Northern Alabama, August 31, 1974, by TVA and UAB. http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ML1111/ML111160144.pdf

  6. Georgia Miller

    Pat Pat Gardiner Owen Sarah Owen

  7. Jan Tate Harvill

    Must visit Gorham’s Bluff Alabama when you are in Scottsboro.

  8. Michael Stallings

    always enjoyed visiting the scottsboro trade days around the courthouse..and the unclaimed baggage store….scottsboro us a really cool town

  9. Two corrections to the above history of Scottsboro:
    1. Crow Town was located 15 miles north of Scottsboro. The Jackson County Historical Association placed a historic marker near the site of Crow Town which was near the Tennessee River just south of Stevenson.
    2. Scottsboro became the county seat in 1868 – NOT 1860. The county records were moved from Bellefonte to Scottsboro in November 1868.

    1. Thank you for the corrections Ann.

  10. Robert Bailey

    The trade days aren’t any good now, city built a new city hall and fire station and parking on the empty lots so there is no room for vendors what still comes has to set up right around the courthouse.

  11. Robert T. Scott did NOT operate a hotel in Bellefonte before founding Scottsboro. He was a newspaper editor, represented Jackson County in the Alabama Legislature, and served in several appointments at the Federal level.

    1. Thanks for the corrections Ann. Sometimes history books can be wrong. I’ll include your comments at the end of the article.

  12. Mark Major

    Nice an peaceful been here over 20 yrs the folks here are nice an have there own ways

  13. Donna Welch

    Near Old Fabius, where my family took their Cherokee land in the Treaty of 1817.

  14. Deborah Moorefield

    Great Articles, thanks Alabama Pioneers! Beautiful photographs!

  15. Tara Arriaga

    I live here….I love it <3

  16. Buffalo Dave Rudabah

    This place looks like it would have some good shade this time of year .

  17. Best town in the world. I grew up there. My family moved there in the 1850s. The cabin at Sagetown is the DIcus Campbell cabin given by my mother Anna Ruth Dicus Campbell and her brother Geirge Dicus in memory of their parents Belle and Houston Dicus. I have lived 40 years in Huntsville but I still call both Scottsboro and Huntsville home. Love Scottsboro!!!!

  18. Ken Bell

    Great little airport there. When we were living in Pittsburgh and flying regularly to Tuscaloosa, if we had a particularly strong headwind and needed fuel, this was always our stop.
    http://www.aopa.org/airports/4A6

  19. Rejetta Balentine

    They grow good apples on Crow Mountain!!!

  20. Charles Moore

    This mentions that Robt. Thomas Scott ran the hotel in Bellefonte. Before Scottsboro became the county seat in 1860, the county courthouse was in Bellefonte. Plans to build the new courthouse were put on hold due to the outbreak of the Civil War. During the war, Union troops sacked Bellefonte and burned Jackson Co. records prior to 1853. The courthouse in Scottsboro was finally built in 1868. The burning of early Jackson Co. records during the war is a big stumbling block for genealogists with roots in the area. See the following for a study on the history of Bellefonte- http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ML1111/ML111160144.pdf

  21. Jennie Jolly

    Scottsboro is EAST of Huntsville, not west.

  22. Trae Haggard

    Now you’re getting into my neck of Alabama.

  23. Linda Stephens

    How neat that you found this Michelle Baker

  24. Donna Welch

    My Cherokee family came from a place near here, Old Fabius…

  25. Patricia Coffee Decker

    My mother’s family goes back four generations in Jackson Co, Davis, Brown and Hawkins.

  26. Peggy Brown

    We lived in Scottsboro a couple of years

  27. Mike Bradford

    My hometown. My Cherokee roots

  28. Laura Stephens Patterson

    Don’t think it is west of Huntsville?

  29. Michael Stallings

    always liked the drive up to Scottsboro, for the 1st sunday tradedays…we started going there with my aunt and unle when I was just a young boy

  30. The Scottsboro Trial was not held in Scottsboro, but moved to Decatur, AL. Is that not what happened?

  31. Daniel F Stinson
  32. Carolyn Hancock Stephens

    Interesting article with Ann Ann B Chambless’ corrections included.

  33. Another great article and pics. It would be great if and when (in this example) there are competing statements if the person asserting the corrections (in this case Mrs. Chambless) to include sources if possible. It would save us “historian” types (for lack of a better word, ha ha) a lot of money trying to track down the facts. Thanks so very much and I appreciate the time and effort taken in sharing information like this.

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