[Great descriptions of people and where they lived in early Autauga county, Alabama before 1886!]
VILLAGE OF WASHINGTON,
AUTAUGA COUNTY, ALABAMA
(from history of Autauga County, Alabama
written around 1886 by Shadrack Mims)
(The first county seat of Autauga County, Alabama was at Jackson’s Mill but the court only met there long enough to select a permanent seat at Washington, built on the former site of Atagi in the southeast corner of the county. In 1830 the county seat was moved to a more central location at Kingston and the town of Washington dwindled until it was completely deserted in the late 1830s. This is a continuation of the description of the small villages of Washington and Old Vernon by Shadrack Mims with some early settlers names.)
My brother, Seaborn Mims, and his wife were both Methodists. They built up a church in this little town ( Old Vernon) which embraced all of its citizens except two or three and was famous at that day for its zeal. My brother having sold out his farm to Col. Pickett and having no land to cultivate, moved to Perry County in the neighborhood of Robert Jemison, his brother-in-law, who afterwards sold to Col. DeYampert—here my brother and wife built up another church embracing some of the best citizens of that section.
After he left Vernon, the church was broken up, every member moving off to other parts except two, myself and Wm. McPherson the latter now living near Fayetteville, Talladega County, Alabama, He is now considerably advanced in his nineties (1886) and is the only man of all that I have mentioned that I know to be alive at this date.
Genealogical Abstracts From The Autauga Citizen, 1853, in Prattville, Autauga County, Alabama – by Charlene Vinson
Village of Washington
Having gone ten miles ahead of my story, I musk ask the reader to go back with me to Washington (Autauga County, Alabama) and I will give him a description of the County as it then was and the names and characters of the citizens within several miles of the road on either side. I am thus particular in order to give the reader an idea of the character of the citizens who were to give coloring to the standard of civilization in the State.
The first house on the road is that of Maj. James Howard within half mile of Washington—he owned a fine farm and followed that business exclusively. Both he and his wife were Methodists of the first stamp, both from Georgia—his wife a daughter of Robert Motley, Senior, who settled on Whitewater Creek and engaged in the lumber business and grinding of grist for the accommodation of a new County—he was very old and palsied but every inch of him a man of the right sort to settle a new country and give it a character. Lest I should get ahead of my history, I will drop the name of Motley, will leave to refer to it again as I present a true history.
Gen. Tom Woodward married Miss Dubose
The next house is on the left of the road about a half mile distant and occupied temporarily by Gen. Tom Woodward of Georgia. The General had acquired a fine reputation for his success in fighting the Indians, for which he was peculiarly fitted. His fame followed him from Georgia, as he had many warm friends and acquaintances in and around Washington and other places.
In some respects he was a most remarkable man. In height he was near six feet, strong and symmetrically proportioned, not a pound of surplus flesh—in action as agile as a cat and as fearless as a lion with an eagle’s eye which if once it gazed upon a man never mistook him for another. A memory remarkable for its tenacity, he could repeat what he had seen and heard with the greatest accuracy. At an advanced period of life he married a Miss DuBose of Dallas; he has long since passed away and whether or not he left any children, I know not.
Thomas Simpson Woodward – Brig. Gen. of the Alabama Militia – died in 1861
Preachers and Farmers
The next house we pass is the residence of Billy Rice, at that time a Methodist exhorter, but afterwards president of the Protestant Methodists. He too has long since passed away. He had two brothers, Josiah and Thurston Rice—the latter was a Baptist preacher of the Hard Shell or Anti-Missionary type. They were in good standing in society and in their church, both good farmers and plentiful livers.
In sight of Billy Rice’s homestead lived Maj. Hamilton on a beautiful farm land very productive. He was a successful farmer and a good citizen, if a member of any church, it was the Baptist. He was a man whose habits of life would give tone to a new County. He died in the early history of the County, leaving a widow and several sons—Jim, and Fred by first wife, Tom by 2nd wife and Moses. His widow afterwards married a Mr. Brantley Cheek a poor but very respectable young man. Cheek soon died, leaving his widow with one daughter—his widow marrying a third husband, Archibald Wilson, by whom I think the original Mrs. Hamilton was the daughter of Thornton Rice, the Baptist preacher above mentioned.
Nolan’s Creek – named for tragic incident
Now we cross Nolan’s Creek, here hangs a sad story according to the tradition as to the way the name was given to. the. creek. A man named Nolan and his little son undertook to cross this creek when in a swollen condition—their cart was upset and Nolen and his little son drowned.
More early settlers
Now look just to the left and you see the home of our acquaintance—Thornton Rice, who was the father of our lately deceased Wm. T. Rice. Look to the right of the road and you see the house of Stephen Pearce on a high eminence, he was Uncle to the late Stephen Pearce who died in Prattville a few years since. The Uncle was a man of sterling worth, a Methodist steward—by trade, a farmer and for many years Tax Collector of the County. He came from Georgia.
A little further on again look to a high eminence and you see the house of Maj. Wm. Hester from Georgia. This man and his wife, both Methodists of the right stripe, his wife a daughter of Warren Stone and sister of Jimmie Nicholson. Hester died in early life, leaving no children. Nicholson died leaving a son and two daughters that I know of. His oldest daughter married Benjamin Taylor. I think Mrs. Taylor afterwards married J. B. Wilkinson, a young man from East Tennessee whose prudent conduct introduced him into the best society. From this marriage a large family has sprung, the most of whom are now engaged in business and exhibiting characters that no parents or County need be ashamed of. The youngest daughter of Nicholson married Leonedas Howard of this County—the same may truthfully be said of this marriage as of the first.
I must not forget to say that the widow of Maj. Hester married Dr. Thomas P. Frith, a worthy man and a Methodist. Dr. Frith had one daughter who had been made motherless by death. Mrs. Hester was the right mother in the right place.
Born in VA, He was a resident for some years in Alabama where he commanded the respect and shared the confidence of his countrymen. Possessing vital Piety, he was ornament to the church and as in life the Christian, so in death he showed the triumph of Religion. Buried in the Stone Cemetery is located in Northeast Lowndes County on property currently owned by General Electric and next to Warren Stone’s home, Magnolia Crest (1st husband of Elizabeth Ann Stone, daughter of Warren & Martha Stone; she married 2nd Thomas Pettus Frith and is buried in the Davis Cemetery, Autauga Co., AL) =
Now reader let me point to another residence on a high hill in sight, the home of Organ Tatum who raised a large family, sons and daughters, and late in life father, mother, and all the children embraced religion and lived on happily and harmoniously together. All of them moved out west and many of them have gone to their last rest. In the same vicinity lived a brother of 0f Tatum’s named Berry Tatum. Berry was a Baptist and nothing else, a good citizen, a man of genius, though of a kind and generous heart.
There were two other Tatums who immigrated to this State early, Joel and Peter. Joel moved to Lowndes County and Peter lived three miles west of Montgomery. If I mistake not Berry Tatum of Montgomery is a son of Peter. Berry is known to be a successful merchant and a fair dealer.
Location unfavorable to health
Now reader as I have described several families and their residences on the right and left of the road leading west which at that time was the thoroughfare for the vast influx of population to Alabama, even to Mississippi line, I must notice a slip of country lying to the left of the road to the river in the form of a crescent. In this crescent there are some large and valuable farms first settled by wealthy men.
The location being unfavorable to health, these farms were merely stocked with negroes and superintended by overseers. Maj. Alsey Pollard, a wealthy planter from Georgia, owned a large and valuable plantation and a summer residence one mile west of Washington. In 1845 he died and his brother-in-law, Jas. Ramsey from Georgia, administered on his estate and kept the children— three sons and one daughter together till they became of age.
Col. H. Hayne plantation
Col. H. Hayne of South Carolina bought a large and very valuable plantation which embraced Manack Island in the Alabama River. He stocked this plantation with Negroes, mules, etc., but not succeeding according to expectations, he sold out his plantation, negroes and all to Dr. Zacheus Pope, then a practicing physician, but comparatively a poor man.
Such, however, was the confidence of Col. Hayne that he sold him his place on time to be paid in annual installments with interest. Dr. Pope, contrary to the predictions of many, came out all right in the end and found himself a rich man. The sequel, however, of his life, from this transaction to his death in 1846 goes to show that such a transaction did not end well to his family.
There was another plantation just below this settled by Wm. Graves from Georgia—a man of considerable means, a Methodist together with his wife and some of his children. His youngest son, Peyton S. Graves, entered the itinerant ministry in early life and soon rose to eminence—he was a man of fine talents and of fine personal appearance, as were all his brothers.
William Graves III tombstone – see more of this family at BROWN, BURT, ABNEY, WATTS, and related families
There was another fine plantation settled by of South Carolina, and I think now owned by W. D. Smith, who was born and raised in this County, and lives at the head of Bear Creek within a few miles of where he was born. He is now getting pretty far advanced in life.
A large portion of the land is now owned by Malcom Wadsworth, the son of Daniel Wadsworth who came to this County a poor man and was overseer for Malcom Smith for many years. His son, Malcom, when quite a young man, enlisted in the late war, and when it ended, returned home poor and penniless—finding his father also poor and stripped of what property he had at the beginning of the war.
I mention this incident to show what a determined spirit can accomplish under the most unfavorable circumstances.Young Wadsworth had been raised to hard work on the farm and assisted his father in making a handsome little fortune. There are two other children of their family doing well under equally as unfavorable circumstances, Wm. Wadsworth and a daughter living in Montgomery, keeping a large boarding house and, as I learn, making a fortune.
ALABAMA FOOTPRINTS Exploration: Lost & Forgotten Stories (Volume 1) is a collection of lost and forgotten stories about the people who discovered and initially settled in Alabama.
Some stories include:
- The true story of the first Mardi Gras in America and where it took place
- The Mississippi Bubble Burst – how it affected the settlers
- Did you know that many people devoted to the Crown settled in Alabama –
- Sophia McGillivray- what she did when she was nine months pregnant
- Alabama had its first Interstate in the early days of settlement
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