Auburn, located in Lee County is the largest city in eastern Alabama with a 2014 population of 60,258. It is a college town, home of Auburn University. The city’s unofficial nickname is “The Loveliest Village on the Plains,” taken from a line in the poem The Deserted Village by Oliver Goldsmith: “Sweet Auburn! loveliest village of the plain…”
Among the early settlers were the Mitchel, Frazer, Moore, Nunn, Harris, Hurst, Hurt, Wright. Samford, Gay, Cobb, Cooper, Cullars, Holifield, McElhaney, Grout, Gachet, Lampkin, Drake, Bedell, Bostlck, Reese, Riley, Dlllard and Glenn families, who came from 1835 to 1850. The Wimberly, Dowdell and Harrison families came later. Auburn was incorporated Feb. 2, 1839.
Cauthen house March 30 1934, built by Simeon Perry around 1850 was on East Drake Avenue suffered irreparable damage by a tornado in April 1953 (W. N. Manning photographer – Library of Congress)
Open for settlement in 1832
Originally the land was the home of the Creek Native Americans, but after the Treaty of Cusseta in 1832, the area was open to settlers.
In 1833, John Harper and his son, Jack, came into this part of the state of Alabama from Harris County, Georgia in search of a new home.
Cauthen house – DOOR TREATMENT IN S.E. ROOM – Cauthen House, East Drake Avenue, Auburn, Lee County, AL, 1935 (W. N. Manning Library of Congress)
Mr. Harper and his son stopped to spend the night at an Inn kept by Mr. Taylor, as the way was long, and it took more than a day’s travel to complete their journey over here. In the Inn he met the beautiful daughter of Mr. Taylor, Elizabeth Taylor, “who had much to do in shaping the destiny or rather the early history of Auburn. She, in fact, named the town, Auburn.” 1
February 21, 1935 FIREPLACE IN N. W. ROOM (DINING ROOM) – Cauthen House, East Drake Avenue, Auburn, Lee County, AL (W. N. Manning, LOC)
Simeon Perry laid out the town
Judge John J. Harper planned on building a town that would be the religious and educational center for the area. Simeon Perry, a Civil Engineer was engaged to lay out the town and he was so “pleased with the location that he decided to build and bring his family to Auburn. His home was later the residence of the Cauthens.
February 21, 1935 WINDOW TREATMENT IN LIVING ROOM – Cauthen House, East Drake Avenue, Auburn, Lee County, AL (W. N. Manning LOC)
February 21, 1935 REAR VIEW (NORTH) – Cauthen House, East Drake Avenue, Auburn, Lee County, AL (W. N. Manning LOC)
Judge Harper gave lots to churches
Judge Harper, a Methodist, gave gifts of church lots to many denominations as well as the Methodist. He presented church lots to Presbyterians (where the Y. W. C. A. was located later); the Episcopal Church (where the library was later located.
The Baptist lot was where the laundry was later located. The Baptists were not very prominent in Auburn at first, so their first structure was a log house; their first preacher was a Mr. E. G. B. Thomas. A story is told that “his Mother dreamed three nights in succession that she was to have a son who would be a Baptist preacher. She also dreamed what his name was to be, The third night after this wonderful dream, Mrs. Thomas had her husband get up and write the name of her son, then unborn. He was named Edwin Champion Johnson Baptist Bowler Wheeler Nicholas Demer Steven Resdin Moore Thomas. It was said by some of the older citizens that Mr. Thomas was so afflicted with names that he proved to be a poor preacher, and he only remained a short while, returning to his home in Georgia. At that time services were only held once a month.1
“Judge Harper’s half-brother, Nathaniel Scott, led the movement to establish the Auburn Masonic Female College, which opened in 1853, and Scott and the Reverend John Bowles Glenn encouraged the local congregation to establish the East Alabama Male College, a Methodist institution that began classes in 1859 and served as the forerunner of Auburn University.“2
1Frazer, Mary Reese HISTORY OF THE AUBURN BAPTIST CHURCH By Mary Reese Frazer
2Draughon, Ralph Brown, Delos D. Hughes, Pearson, Ann Bowling, Lost Auburn: A Village Remembered in Period Photographs NewSouth Books, 2012
- Frazer, Mary Reese HISTORY OF THE AUBURN BAPTIST CHURCH –The Alabama Historical Quarterly, Vol. 08, No. 01, Spring Issue 1946
- Draughon, Ralph Brown, Delos D. Hughes, Pearson, Ann Bowling, Lost Auburn: A Village Remembered in Period Photographs NewSouth Books, 2012
- Library of Congress
- Alabama Department of Archives and History
- Jeff & Flint, Wayne, The Auburn First Baptist Church 1838-1988