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Auburn, Alabama – home of Auburn University was settled after the Native Americans left in 1833

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.

METHODIST CHURCH, Auburn United Methodist Church Auburn Alabama South Gay Street Chapel History Sign, UMC Lee County Auburn AL.

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


  1. Frazer, Mary Reese HISTORY OF THE AUBURN BAPTIST CHURCH The Alabama Historical Quarterly, Vol. 08, No. 01, Spring Issue 1946
  2. Draughon, Ralph Brown, Delos D. Hughes, Pearson, Ann Bowling, Lost Auburn: A Village Remembered in Period Photographs NewSouth Books, 2012
  3. Library of Congress
  4. Alabama Department of Archives and History
  5. Jeff  & Flint, Wayne,  The Auburn First Baptist Church 1838-1988

Lost Auburn: A Village Remembered in Period Photographs

Lost Auburn: A Village Remembered in Period Photographs (Hardcover)
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Lost Auburn: A Village Remembered in Period Photographs (Hardcover)

By (author):  Draughon Jr., Ralph B., Hughes, Delos

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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 All her books can be purchased at 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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  1. My “home” for three years. I liked living there.

  2. Wow. So they just left. Fascinating.

  3. You need to correct one of the authors of Auburn Baptist Church. It was Jeffers, John not Jeff. He was pastor of that church for many, many years.

  4. yes sir, they just left and really did not want to live around any stinking white people. Rewriting history one page at a time!

  5. Steve Fugett is right. Indians weren’t given a choice about remaining around whites. When Andrew Jackson founded the Democratic party he established its ‘the evil party’ tradition of winning votes by badly treating some group and pretending that proves they care about some other group. In that case it was Indians versus white settlers eager for cheap land.

    Keep in mind what enraged those white settlers who wanted to grab Indian land. The South’s Creeks and Cherokees were among the “civilized tribes” who were settling down, farming land, developing a written language, publishing newspapers/Bibles and in general “acting like white people.” It was becoming increasingly hard to justify grabbing their land in the interest of “civilization.” That’s why Andrew Jackson used a war started by some Indians to take land away from all of them.

    It’s also why some want people today want to take Jackson off the $20 bill to make room for a woman, which woman being uncertain. That certainly makes more sense that removing Alexander Hamilton from the $10 bill. Hamilton played a major role in creating our banking system, which allowed us to become a prosperous modern nation.

    Andrew Jackson’s party has continued the tradition he established. It was the party that defended slavery and, after the Civil War, worked to re-establish segregation and white supremacy. The Republicans actually managed to keep federal jobs (i.e. local postmasters) integrated even in the South. Woodrow WIlson, a progressive Democrat, aggressively did away with that as President, segregating federal offices in D.C. and often firing black people.

    The tradition continued with the suppression of free speech during WWI under Wilson, something infinitely worse that the so-called McCarthy era. FDR, elected four times to the White House, only did one thing for the nation’s black people, an easily justified executive order integrating war industries. He also did nothing for Europe’s persecuted Jews and tossed over 100,000 Japanese-Americans into concentration camps despite the fact that none, repeat none, were ever convicted of spying for Japan. Like I said, it’s the evil party. The Republicans tend to fail by being spineless.

    So is it any surprise that the party of Andrew Jackson is now the party of legalized abortion and eager to force religious people to pay for abortions? Not at all. It’s now almost two-centuries old speciality is stepping on people to win elections.

    The sick reality is that many of these horrors did not have to happen. In the 1820s, evangelical missionaries challenged the mistreatment of Indians and took their fight all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, where they won. But Andrew Jackson, the arrogant jerk, ignored the Court. The British ended slavery without a war in the 1830s. Thanks to our Democratic party, we didn’t until 1865, and only after the bloodiest war in our nation’s history. But for Andrew Jackson and his party, those horrors would have never begun or been quickly ended.

    When blame for our nation’s horrors is dished out, it ought to go to the genuinely guilty and that guilty isn’t a vague “everyone” much less “everyone white” like some want us to believe Particular evils always have particular supporters and opponents particularly one of our political parties.

    What G. K. Chesterton said about England is also true of the U.S., “There was never an American wrong without and American protest.”

    –Michael W. Perry, co-author of Lily’s Ride: Rescuing her Father from the Ku Klux Klan (set in 1870s North Carolina)

  6. I did not find any references to the fact that the first organizational meeting for Auburn University actually took place at First United Methodist Church in Talladega. A historical plaque to the event is situated today infront of the church on the corner of East Street, s & South Street.
    James W. Anderson
    Talladega, AL

    1. Thank you for the additional information.

  7. In your article about Auburn, Alabama you mentioned that Judge John Harper was from Harris County, Ga.
    and that he had Simeon Perry to layout the town. Do you know if Simeon Perry was also from Harris County, Ga? I have a ggg uncle from there that I can’t find much info on.

    1. I’m sorry. I do not have any more information on Simeon Perry.

  8. To my friend Lane,,,,enjoy….lol

  9. My university!
    I love Auburn – WDE!

  10. […] we are indebted to her for both the “Early History of Auburn,” herewith published, and also “History of the Auburn Baptist Church,” which will appear in a later issue. […]

  11. Melanie Stickler Falconer

  12. Melanie Stickler Falconer

    1. this actually reminds me of a house that used to be in Lawrence Co, not Lee Co

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