EARLY LAUDERDALE COUNTY, ALABAMA
(Published in 1921)
Lauderdale County was created by an act of the Alabama Territorial legislature, February 6, 1818. The name was given to the county in honor of Colonel James Lauderdale, “a gallant Tennessean,” who was killed in a night attack upon the British below New Orleans, December 23, 1814. Among the older settlements in the county is Center Star, located between Killen and Rogersville.
This area was once claimed by both the Chickasaws and Cherokees, necessitating a cession of territory from each tribe before the settlement could be established. The remains of an old Indian village could be seen at one time southwest of Center Star. Other old settlements included Middleton and Elgin, the latter known first as Ingram’s Elgin Cross Roads.
Lauderdale County was formed of that tract of country lying west of Limestone County and north of the Tennessee River. The dimensions of the county were reduced by an act of the legislature of November 27, 1821, by adding to Limestone County all of that territory that lay between Tennessee and east of the range numbered- six and Elk River. This has been the only change in the original size of the county.
In the Tennessee Valley
Located in what is known as the Tennessee Valley, a variety of surface features which have “a direct bearing upon the soils and agricultural interest,” are found. The eastern two-thirds of the county, is a broad, “gently rolling surface,” which is known as the ‘plateau section.
Situated in the north western section of the state, Lauderdale is bounded on the north by Hardin, Wayne, and Lawrence Counties, Tenn., on the east by Limestone County, on the south by Colbert and Lawrence Counties, and on the west by Mississippi. It is embraced within the parallels 34° 43′ and 35″ north latitude and the meridians 87° 12′ and 88″ 12’ west longitude. The greatest length of the county is 57 miles in an east and west direction, and its greatest width is 20 miles from north to south.
View of cemetery looking west W. N. Manning, Photographer, FEB. 2, 1934. Forks of Cypress, Florence, Lauderdale County, AL
Claimed by both the Chickasaws and Cherokees
The territory originally embraced in this county was claimed by both the Chickasaws and Cherokees, both making cessions of it to the United States. By the treaty of January 7, 1806, the Cherokees ceded all claim to lands on the north side of the Tennessee River and west of the Chickasaw Old Fields, with the exception of two reservations, one of which lay wholly within Lauderdale County, the other largely so, its eastern boundary being Elk River.
The Chickasaws, by the treaty of “Chickasaw Council House,” September 20, 1816, ceded all right or title to lands on the north side of the Tennessee River, with the exception of three reservations, the largest of which was for George Colbert and his heirs. Colbert’s reservation included his ferry and lay between the two Cherokee reservations, being in fact, overlapped by one of them. The two reservations of the Cherokees were ceded to the United States by the treaty of July 8, 1817. Colbert’s reservation was confirmed to him and his heirs by the treaty of October 19, 1818, and was deeded to the United States, May 15, 1819.
Home of George Colbert in nearby Colbert County, Alabama built 1790 (Alabama Department of Archives and History)
Exploration work along the Tennessee river has shown a number of Native American town sites. None of these have been positively identified as Chickasaw towns, however. In the southeastern corner of a large cultivated field at the juncture of Bough’s branch with Tennessee river, is a large town site on which is a burial mound, now practically obliterated by the plough.
Some interesting vessels of earthenware have been found there. One-fourth mile back from the landing at the Johnson place, on the property of Mr. John Beckwith of Florence, are two mounds about 10 and 7 feet, in height, respectively. On Kager’s Island, a property controlled by J. T. Reeder of Smithsonia are three town site evidence, which in recent years, although practically destroyed by cultivation, have shown some interesting burial remains.
Florence Indian Mound and Museum (www.visitflorenceal.com)
Mounds in the county
Opposite this island, on the property of the same owner, a short distance from Perkins Spring, are three mounds, from which have been secured some very fine copper objects and an interesting agricultural implement of shale. On no part of the large town site in the proximity of the mounds was any evidence of pottery noted, though sherds were numerous and some whole pieces have been found on the island about a mile distant.
At Florence is the great domiciliary mound 42 feet in height and the largest on the Tennessee river and possibly in Alabama. It originally is thought to have had an eastern side caseway leading to the summit. At Lock 3 in the Muscle Shoals canal, where Bluewater Creek enters the Tennessee, is a large town site. On the property of J. T. Thornton, at the upper entrance of the canal, is a large shell-heap, known locally as “Pennywinkle” hill, in reality, Perriwinkle Hill, named no doubt from the number of shells of this species found there. A small well-worn mound is to be found on the plantation of Dr. L. A. Weaver, in a view from the river.
Forks of Cypress Cemetery, Lauderdale County, Alabama 2010 by photographer Carol Highsmith
On the property of Mr. W. F. Harrison, about half-a-mile above Nance’s Reef, is a large domiciliary mound and a smaller one, some distance easterly, composed largely of shell and which is doubtless a burial mound. At numbers of other points on the Tennessee are noted shell mounds or shell-heaps as they are more commonly known, which are in connection with town sites.
Gen. Jackson and President Madison owned lots in Florence the County seat
Florence, the County seat, was laid out in 1818, and Gen. Jackson, and ex-president Madison owned lots in it, about that time.
This county was one of the first settled by white people, the immigrants coming from Virginia, the Carolinas, and Tennessee. Scattered settlements were made along Cypress, Shoal, Bluewater, and the other large creeks.
About 1870 a colony of Germans settled at St. Florian; these people planted little cotton giving most of their attention to grains, truck crops, and fruits.
Post Offices and Towns.—Revised to July 1, 1917, from U. S. Official Postal Guide. Numbers indicate the number of rural routes from that office.
- Florence (ch.)—5
Delegates to Constitutional Conventions.—
- 1819—Hugh McVay.
- 1861—Sidney C. Posey; Henry C. Jones.
- 1865—Robert M. Patton; James Irvine.
- 1867—James W. Stewart; James T. Rapier (colored).
- 1875—Edward A. O’Neal; Richard Orick Pickett.
- 1901—Emmet O’Neal; John B. Weakley; John T. Ashcraft.
- 1819-20—Joseph Farmer.
- 1821- 22—Hugh McVay.
- 1822- 3—Hugh McVay.
- 1825-6—James Jackson.
- 1828-9—Hugh McVay.
- 1830-1-James Jackson (1830)
- 1832-3- Hugh McVay
- 1834-5 – Hugh McVay (1836)
- 1837-8 Sidney C. Posey
- 1838-9-Hugh McVay
- 1841-2-Hugh McVay
- 1844-5-Sidney C. Posey
- 1847-8- John C. F. Wilson
- 1851-2- Robert M. Patton
- 1855-6- Robert M. Patton
- 1859-60 Robert M. Patton (1861)
- 1862-3 James Stewart
- 1865-6- James Jackson
- 1866- B. Lentz
- 1871-2- B. Lentz
- 1872-3- Daniel Coleman
- 1873- Daniel Coleman
- 1874-5 Daniel Coleman
- 1875-6-R. A. McClellan
- 1876-7- W. J. Wood
- 1878-9- W. J. Wood
- 1880-1-T. N. McClellan
- 1884-5- R. T. Simpson
- 1886-7-R. T. Simpson
- 1888-9- W. N. Hays
- 1890-1- Wm. N. Hayes
- 1892-3- J. M. Cunningham
- 1894-5- J. M. Cunningham
- 1896-7 – Ben M. Sowell
- 1898-9- Ben M. Sowell
- 1899 (spec) B. M. Sowell
- 1900-01-H. R. Kennedy
- 1903-Dr. Hiram Raleigh Kennedy
- 1907-Wm. N. Hayes
- 1907 (spec) – Wm. N. Hayes
- 1909 (spec) – Wm. N. Hayes
- 1911 – Thurston H. Allen
- 1915 – H. C. Thach; James E. Horton
- 1919- B. A. Rogers
- 1819-20-Jacob Byler; Thomas Garrard
- 1820-1-H. McVay; Jonathan Bailey
- 1821 (called) – H. McVay; Jonathan Bailey
- 1821-2- G. Masterson; John Craig
- 1822-3-James Jackson; F. Durett
- 1823-4-James Jackson; C. S. Manley
- 1824-5- Jacob Byler; J. P. Cunningham
- 1825-6- Jonathan Bailey; William B. Martin; George Coalter
- 1826-7-Hugh McVay; Samuel Craig; Henry Smith
- 1827-8- Hugh McVay; Samuel Craig; Francis Durett
- 1828-9 – J. L. D. Smith; William George; Francis Durett
- 1829-30-John Pope; Samuel Craig; F. Durett
- 1830-1-Hugh McVay; William George; J. P. Cunningham
- 1831-2- Hugh McVay; Samuel Craig; John McKinley
- 1832 (called) – Cornelius Carmack; George S. Houston; Samuel Young
- 1832-3 – Cornelius Carmack; George S. Houston; Samuel Young
- 1833-4 – Cornelius Carmack; James Jackson; Samuel Harkins
- 1834-5-Cornelius Carmack; James Jackson;Samuel Young; J. B. Womack
- 1835-6-Cornelius Carmack; S. C. Posey; L. Garner; E. Sheffield
- 1836-7-Cornelius Carmack; S. C. Posey; John McKinley; R. M. Patton
- 1837 (called) – Cornelius Carmack; S. C. Posey; John McKinley; R. M. Patton
- 1837-8-Cornelius Carmack; George Simmons; J. M. Boston; E. Sheffield
- 1838-9- Cornelius Carmack; J. Douglas; James M. Boston; S. R. Garner
- 1839-40 -Henry D. Smith; J. Douglas; A. O. Horn
- 1840-1-Henry D. Smith; J. Douglas; J. R. Alexander
- 1841 (called) – Henry D. Smith, J. Douglas; J. R. Alexander
- 1841-2- Henry D. Smith; J. S. Kennedy; J. R. Alexander
- 1842-3-Henry D. Smith; J. Douglas; John S. Kennedy
- 1843-4- B. B. Barker; J. Douglas; J. R. Alexander
- 1844-5- Henry D. Smith; W. Baugh; J. R. Alexander
- 1845-6 – E. G. Young; B. B. Barker; J. C. F. Wilson
- 1847-8-L. P. Walker; John E. Moore; J. S. Kennedy
- 1849-50 -L. P. Walker; R. M. Patton; Joseph Hough
- 1851-2- R. W. Walker; V. M. Benham; O. H. Oates
- 1853-4- L. P. Walker; William Rhodes
- 1855-6-R. W. Walker; H. D. Smith
- 1857-8 – S. A. M. Wood; H. D. Smith
- 1859-60- S. D. Hermon; H. D. Smith
- 1861 (1st called) – S. D. Hermon; H. D. Smith
- 1861 (2nd called) – S. C. Posey; J. H. Witherspoon
- 1861-2- S. C. Posey; J. H. Witherspoon
- 1862 (called) – S. C. Posey; J. H. Witherspoon
- 1862-3- S. C. Posey; J. H. Witherspoon
- 1863 (called) Alexander McAlexander; T. L. Chisholm
- 1863-4 – Alexander McAlexander; T. L. Chisholm
- 1864 (called) Alexander McAlexander; T. L. Chisholm
- 1864-5 – Alexander McAlexander; T. L. Chisholm
- 1865-6- Edward McAlexander; B. E. Bourland
- 1866-7 – Edward McAlexander; B. E. Bourland
- 1868- W. R. Chisholm
- 1869-70 – W. R. Chisholm
- 1870-1- B. F. Taylor
- 1871-2- B. F. Taylor
- 1872-3- B. F. Taylor
- 1873- B. F. Taylor
- 1874-5- S. D. Herman
- 1875-6- S. D. Herman
- 1876-7- J. M. Cunningham
- 1878-9 – B. F. Taylor
- 1880-1- C. H. Patton
- 1882-3- R. T. Simpson; J. C. Kendrick
- 1884-5—R. O. Pickett; H. Richardson.
- 1886-7—H. Richardson; R. O. Pickett.
- 1888-9—T. O. Bevis; J. M. Cunningham.
- 1890-1—O. P. Tucker; T. O. Bevis.
- 1892-3—H. R. Kennedy; John C. Ott.
- 1894-5—H. R. Kennedy; John C. Ott.
- 189 6-7—J. J. Mitchell; H. A. Killen.
- 1898-9—J. J. Mitchell; H. A. Killen.
- 1899 (Spec.)—J. J. Mitchell; H. A. Killen.
- 1900-01—R. E. Simpson; C. P. Anderson.
- 1903—Henry Alexander Killen; Robert Tennent Simpson.
- 1907—John L. Hughston; H. A. Killen.
- 1907 (Spec.)—John L. Hughston; H. A. Killen.
- 1909 (Spec.)—John L. Hughston; H. A. Killen.
- 1911—Lee Waits; Jas. S. Kulburn.
- 1915—H. A. Bradshow; T. E. Jones.
- 1919—S. C. McDonald; W. L. Sherrod.
Owen, Thomas McAdory History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography, Volume II.
- The Yazoo land fraud;
- Daily life as an Alabama pioneer;
- The capture and arrest of Vice-president AaronBurr;
- The early life of William Barrentt Travis in Alabama, hero of the Alamo;
- Description of Native Americans of early Alabama including the visit by Tecumseh;
- Treaties and building the first roads in Alabama.