FROM OUR PATRON MEMBER ARCHIVES – this story is now visible to the general public – Click to Become a Patron and see stories like this FIRST!
Scottsboro is a city in Jackson County, Alabama, uniquely situated about 30 miles from both the state Tennessee and Georgia and 45 miles from west from Huntsville, Alabama. There was a Cherokee Indian town named “Crow Town” where Scottsboro is located today.It was named for Legislator, Robert Thomas Scott. the founder.
Moved to area of Scottsboro in early 1850’s
Scott ran a hotel in nearby Bellefonte. He and his wife, Elizabeth, moved to the area of Scottsboro in the early 1850’s. The village was known as Scott’s Mill, Scottsville, and Sage Town.
Scott established a grist mill and a shingle factory and convinced the Memphis and Charleston railroad to run the rail line through his property. The rail traffic soon expanded the local adjacent village, known as Scott’s Mill. He convinced the newly formed Memphis and Charleston Railroad decided to build a station at Scottsboro in 1857.
In 1860, Scottsboro became the county seat. On January 20, 1870, Scottsboro was incorporated and it’s first mayor was named Snodgrass.
Scottsboro steadily grew
“Between the years of 1868 and 1930, Scottsboro steadily grew from town to city. Sawmills and cotton gins were established in Scottsboro in the 1880s, and by the turn of the century Scottsboro was home to hotels, schools, several law and medical offices, an opera house, and a newspaper. On October 5, 1927, Colonel Charles Lindbergh visited Scottsboro and performed stunts in his aircraft, Spirit of St. Louis, before flying on to Chattanooga.”ii
Entered the national spotlight
“Scottsboro remained out of the international spotlight until March 1931, when nine young African American men were falsely accused of rape by two white women. The trial of the so-called “Scottsboro Boys” was held in Scottsboro and marked the beginning of a long legal battle in which the gross inequities of the Alabama justice system became an international spectacle. The trials generated great interest, inspired a number of literary and artistic works, and for generations made the name Scottsboro synonymous with racial injustice.”iii
The Scottsboro Boys case in 1931, went to the United States Supreme Court twice and established forever the principles that, in the United States, criminal defendants are entitled to effective assistance of counsel and that people may not be de facto excluded from juries due to their race.
“In January 2004, amidst television cameras and radio and newspaper reporters, a crowd gathered near the Jackson County Court House in Scottsboro to dedicate a historical marker commemorating the Scottsboro Boys’ trial and their struggle for justice.”
“An 87-year-old black man who attended the ceremony, one of the few who could remember the cases firsthand, recalled that the mob scene following the Boys’ arrest ‘was frightening’ and that death threats were leveled against the jailed suspects. He applauded the town’s move to install the plaque on the courthouse yard. ‘I think it will bring the races closer together,’ he said, ‘to understand each other better.”iv
The Scottsboro Boys Museum was opened in February 2010.
iEncyclopedia of Alabama
iiEncyclopedia of Alabama
iiiEncyclopedia of Alabama
Note: Corrections emailed by Ann B. Chambliss –
Robert T. Scott did NOT operate a hotel in Bellefonte before founding Scottsboro. He was a newspaper editor, represented Jackson County in the Alabama Legislature, and served in several appointments at the Federal level.
Two corrections to the above history of Scottsboro:
1. Crow Town was located 15 miles north of Scottsboro. The Jackson County Historical Association placed a historic marker near the site of Crow Town which was near the Tennessee River just south of Stevenson.
2. Scottsboro became the county seat in 1868 – NOT 1860. The county records were moved from Bellefonte to Scottsboro in November 1868.