Days Gone By - stories from the pastGenealogy Information

Conecuh County, Alabama had a permanent white settlement in 1815 at Hawthorne’s Mill Creek

Conecuh County Early Days

by Rev. B. F. Riley

In the latter part of 1815, the first permanent settlement, by the whites, was made near Bellville. Samuel Buchanan as the first to establish his home within the borders of the county. He located on what is now known as Hawthorne’s Mill Creek, about one and a half miles west of Bellville, near the famous Indian trail known, then, as the Old Wolf Trail, which ran from the present site of Claiborne, on the Alabama river, via Bellville, to some point on the Chattahoochee.

Other early settlers

At this period no whites resided nearer this pioneer hero than at Claiborne on the west, or Burnt Corn on the north. But shortly after this, Alexander Autrey removed from the region of Claiborne and settled upon a small stream west of his late residence which he called Autrey’s creek. Subsequent to this, he removed to the line of hills which overlook Murder Creek from the west, where he established himself in a new home and named it Hampden Ridge.

Shortly after Mr. Autrey’s removal to Conecuh, there came from North Carolina three gentlemen whose names were Thomas Mendenhall, Eli Mendenhall, and Reuben Hart. The first of these established himself at the spot now known as the Old Savage Place, on the road running from Bellville to Evergreen. Mr. Hart located very near the present residence of Dr. J. L. Shaw.

Early in 1817, the population of Bellville, which then boasted of the name of “The Ponds,” from the lakes which existed near, was increased by the emigration of Joshua Hawthorne from Wilkinson County, Georgia, to South Alabama. He pitched his family tent in the virgin forests near the home of the late Henry Stanley, surrounded by no other elements of civilization than those already named.

Belleville Baptist Church west side County Road 15 in the historic area of Belleville, Conecuh County, Alabama. Alabama. Historical Commission (Alabama Department of Archives and History)

Belleville Baptist Church west side County Road 15 in the historic area of Belleville, Conecuh County, Alabama. Alabama. Historical Commission (Alabama Department of Archives and History)

Branded a rascal

As each emigrant would take up his abode in this land of teeming beauty, he would cast about him for the most favorable location, and one best suited to the interests of his future residence. In order to fix the title of what was then known as the Emigrant’s Claim, the early pioneers would select the tract or district best suited to their tastes, and would proceed to indicate their title to permanent tenure by girding a few trees, with impressions cut in the bark, and by laying somewhere upon land desired, the first four logs of a building. This was a monument of possession and was sacredly respected by the early settlers. The man who would dare disregard this asserted claim was branded a rascal out right and incurred the loss of public confidence and esteem.

Belleville Methodist Church on the south side U.S. Highway 84 in the historic area of Belleville, (Alabama Department of Archives and History)

A large group from Chester District, S. C.

Near the period above referred to, another batch emigrants came to Conecuh from Chester District, South Carolina. They settled near Hampden Ridge. These were Chesley Crosby, Robert Savage, Mabry Thomas, and Alexander Donald, then quite a young man. These were accompanied by Robert Herrin and Jesse T. Odum, the former of whom continued on to Claiborne, where he located and resided many years while the latter removed to Buena Vista, in Monroe county, where he lived to be quite old. All of these flourished conspicuously in their adopted counties, for many years together.


(Excerpt transcribed from History of Conecuh County Alabama by Rev. B. F. Riley, Pastor of the Opelika Baptist Church, 1881 Thos. Gilbert, Steam Printer and Book-Binder)

FreeHearts: 2nd edition A Novel of Colonial America Col. John Washington (ancestor of President George Washington), Randall Revell, Tom Cottingham, Edmund Beauchamp ward off Indian attacks and conquer the wilds of Maryland’s Eastern shore in 17th century colonial America in this historical novel, inspired by true events. – Read eBooks using the FREE Kindle Reading App on Most Devices

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

Liked it? Take a second to support Alabama Pioneers on Patreon!


  1. The research I’ve done has shown the very early settlers in this area came up the rivers and creeks.

  2. My father Charles Frazier lives here. Marcy Frazier

  3. Thank you for posting this peace. I can see my grandparents graves on Methodist Church picture. Was married in beautiful Baptist Church. Joined it as. Child of 11 and my ancestors are also mentioned by Dr. Riley.

  4. Why are the Central AL counties seemingly overlooked by AL Pioneers, especially Tallapoosa, Coosa, Elmore, Montgomery and Pike?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.