Days Gone By - stories from the past

This county with numerous bat caves only existed four years because it was too small [film & pictures]

Decatur is a large well-known city in North Alabama, but did you know  there was once a county named Decatur in Alabama. It only existed a few years.decaturcounty

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.

See all books by Donna R Causey

Commodore Stephen Decatur

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.”1823map

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.


  1. Acts, 1821-22, pp. 10, 72, 73, 74; 1822-23, pp. 34, 89; 1823-24, pp. 84, 91;
  2. Brewer, Alabama (1872), p. 282;
  3. Taylor, “Madison County,” in Huntsville Independent, circa 1879.
  4. Wikipedia

Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) – A novel inspired by the experiences of the Cottingham family who immigrated from the Eastern Shore of Virginia to Alabama

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. Why is there not anything ever on this sight about the history on southern cities in Alabama

    1. There are many pages on southern cities, especially Mobile such as these: Try a seach by county to see them. Here are a few more:

  2. There’s a historic marker on the right side of Highway 72 heading towards Scottsboro from Huntsville about Decatur County.

  3. I remember going to the bat caves as a kid. Cool stuff.

  4. My mother remembers going to dances and parties in Sauta Cave. She calls it, like most other people around here, “Sautie Cave”. I also spoke with a couple of elderly sisters from Limrock, and they confirmed this story of dances and parties being held in the cave back in the 1930s.

  5. […] of Flint River, after it has left Madison County. The western half of the county was formed into Decatur County, by an act of the Legislature of December 21, […]

  6. Some of these counties are huge!

  7. Debra happy birthday but some people have big haret

    1. You’re right. Thanks for the birthday wishes.

  8. Therr is a marker on 72 in Woodville.

  9. Teresa Cook Lambert
    Grady Lambert

  10. Anyone have a current source for this map?

  11. The link in this post takes you to a malware download site. Do not proceed.

  12. Do not go here. Site trys to download crap on your device.

  13. Brandi Moncrief Money

  14. Great history of Alabama and Decatur County!

    My 3x great grandfather is Caswell Biby (Bibey); I’m attempting to locate where his property (referenced in the boundary adjustment documentation) would have been. Any assistance with a more exact location would be greatly appreciated! (as in where was Winchester Road, and are there any landowner plat maps that would have his parcel of land marked? I’ve not been able to find anything as yet)

    Thanks in advance!

    Kind regards,
    Sharon Biby

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