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(The following has been transcribed from Chapter Two of Jefferson County and Birmingham History 1887 by Teeple & Smith Publishers)
JEFFERSON COUNTY AS IT WAS IN BY-GONE DAYS.
B. E. GRACE
The territory which constitutes the county of Jefferson is a part of what was formerly known as the county of Blount. Under the territorial government known as the Mississippi Territory, the counties were large and but sparsely populated.
After the admission of Alabama as a State into the Union, and the adoption of the constitution, at the first session of the legislature, in 1820, great changes were made in the county boundaries, and many new counties established, among which was the present county of Jefferson, which embraces the territory commencing at Village Springs, in the north-eastern portion, and extends down in a south-western direction to Roupe Valley, which has long been famous for its immense deposits of iron ore, and where the first iron was made in the State of Alabama.
1865 Map Showing Roupe Valley
Locations in Blount County, Alabama in 1887
The county is about forty-five miles long, from north-east to south-west, and about thirty miles across the other way from a point between the Mulberry and Locust forks of the Warrior River to the Shades Mountain, and at the south-east extremity to Cahaba Valley.
Jones Valley extends pretty near through the whole length of the county, being divided by a low ridge for two-thirds the distance, the most valuable portion running parallel and by the side of the great deposit of red hematite ore and known as Red Mountain.
Red Mountain location
The city of Birmingham is situated in that part of the valley about midway between the north-east and south-west extremities. and within about eight miles of the southern boundary and three miles from Red Mountain. The great Warrior Coal Basin extends for about twenty miles at the widest part, from south-east to north-west, and the whole length of the county the other way.
Area was a hunting ground for Native Americans
The early settlers say that the Indians did not occupy this portion of their territory as their homes, but seem to have set it apart as a hunting ground, and as a great, magnificent park, in which they, the Creeks and neighboring nations, the Cherokees and Choctaws, held their annual meetings to celebrate notable events in their history, and to perform their national games, like the ancient Greeks.
They had a town on the Warrior River, known as Old Town, at which, according to Miss Duffie, a detachment from General Jackson’s army had a battle with them and captured one of their principal chiefs.
Long after the settlement of Jones Valley a trace leading from Old Town to Mudd Town, on the Cahaba River, now owned by Rev. John Caldwell, (ca. 1887) and crossing the Shades Mountain, about a mile east of Oxmoor, was plainly visible.
Rude fort was erected in 1815
After the year 1815, which was about the time of the first settlement of white persons in Jones Valley, there were very few Indians seen here, and no hostile demonstrations; nevertheless, through abundant. caution, the first settlers erected a rude fort near the present site of Old Jonesboro, but it was seldom occupied.
1888 Map Showing Old Jonesboro
Names of some of the first settlers
The first settlers, John Jones, Andrew McLaughlin, Samuel and Isaac Fields, and a few others, made the first settlement at the point above named, and the valley took its name from one of them, who, it seems, was a reckless, daring man, but who has left nothing but his name to throw any light upon his previous history. The others have left numerous descendants, who are among the noted families of our old citizens.
At that settlement, Moses Fields, lately deceased, was born, being the first white child born in the county. The first merchants there at that time were Ben. McWhorter, Mark M. Harris, Edward Sims, John B. Ayers, and John W. Bramlett.
Near the same time a colony from Rutherford County, Tenn., settled at the place now known as Woodlawn, a suburb of the new city. This party was composed of Williamson Hawkins, Thonlas Barton, William Cowden, James Cunningham, probably Jonathan York and others, and soon afterward a large party from South Carolina, consisting of John Brown, Isaac Brown, John Brown (red), John Brown (black), John Wood, James H. Wood, William Culbertson, William C. Tarrant, Henry Tarrant, James Tarrant, William Reid, and several of the Montgomerys, and others not now recollected. The persons above mentioned, and their descendants, constituted a large part of our population, and have filled important offices in our county and State.
Check out genealogy and novels by Donna R. Causey
ALABAMA FOOTPRINTS: Settlement: Lost & Forgotten Stories is a collection of lost and forgotten stories of the first surveyors, traders, and early settlements of what would become the future state of Alabama.
- A Russian princess settling in early Alabama
- How the early setters traveled to Alabama and the risks they took
- A ruse that saved immigrants lives while traveling through Native American Territory
- Alliances formed with the Native Americans
- How an independent republic, separate from the United States was almost formed in Alabama