Decatur County was created by the legislature, December 7, 1821, out of a part of Jackson County. Its area was described in the act of establishment as including “all that tract of country lying west of Jackson County, south of the Tennessee State line, east of Madison County, and north of the Tennessee Elver.” The county was named for Commodore Stephen Decatur of the United States Navy.
Commodore Stephen Decatur
“By an act of December 13, 1821, a commission was appointed to select a temporary seat of justice for the county, to serve until the Government lands within its limits should be sold. On the same day provision was made for the holding of circuit courts in the county, and authority was given the judges and commissioners of the county court to levy a tax, not exceeding one-fourth the amount of the State tax rate, for the erection of a temporary courthouse and jail.”
An act of December 31, 1822, defined the boundary line between Decatur and Jackson Counties with more particularity, as follows:
“Beginning at the mouth of Sauta creek; thence up said creek to where the Winchester road crosses said creek; thence to Jesse Thompson’s; thence to Caswell Bibey’s, including said Jesse Thompson, William Cundlc, Hiram Jackson, Thomas Jones, John Smart, and said Caswell Bibey’s in Decatur county; thence from said Bibey to the top of the mountain above William E. Haskins, where the Winchester road descends the Cumberland mountain; thence to the most leading point of the mountain, between the mouth of the Lick fork and the mouth of Larkin’s fork of Paint rock river; thence to the top of said mountain; thence a northwest course, to the Tennessee state line.”
This film includes an Interesting History about Sauta Creek and Sauta Cave
On December 17, 1823, an act was passed to provide for elections to determine the selection of a quarter section of land on which to establish a county seat. On the site thus selected the town of Woodville. Woodville was settled about 1815 by Henry Derrick and is the oldest town in Jackson County. It was named for early residents Richard and Annie Wood.
Woodville is now in present day Jackson County, Alabama. It continued as the seat of justice until the county was abolished by the legislature of 1823-24, and its territory divided between Jackson and Madison Counties. There are many caves in the area where gray bats live. Many people travel to Sauta Cave to watch over 250,000 bats emerge from the cave on summer evenings. It is truly a spectacular event as you can see by this video.
Gray bats emerging from Sauta Cave
Woodville is also home of Cathedral Caverns State Park
The county was of irregular shape, being more than 40 miles in length, and varying from 3 to 25 miles in width. When surveys of its area had been completed, it was found that it did not contain the constitutional number of square miles, and it was therefore abolished. During its short existence, its representatives in the legislature were shown on the senate and house journals as from Jackson and Decatur Counties.
- Acts, 1821-22, pp. 10, 72, 73, 74; 1822-23, pp. 34, 89; 1823-24, pp. 84, 91;
- Brewer, Alabama (1872), p. 282;
- Taylor, “Madison County,” in Huntsville Independent, circa 1879.