News - from the past & the present

1817 letter predicted the present-day ghost town of Blakeley, Alabama would compete with Mobile

(From The Evening Post (New York, New York) August 21, 1817)

Much valuable information to emigrants and others, is contained in the following letter from a gentleman now in the Alabama Territory, to his friend in this city.



Town of Blakeley

Letter from Part I continued

This place is styled in the law the “Town of Blakeley.” It lies six miles north of Mobile Bay to the east margin of the main direct ship channel of Mobile river; which, from near Stoddert down to the Bay, is designated “Tensas”.

This channel subdivides in front of Blakely, and its principal mouth runs southwesterly to near the centre of the head of the Bay, where it forms a junction with Spanish River, (which is the main channel into Mobile,) and both make one common channel over the bar, 12 feet deep at high water and ten at low water there being but two feet flow of tide ordinarily; and but one flood and one ebb in 24 hours in Mobile Bay.

The other four mouths of Mobile river have not more than 8 or 9 feet at high water on their bars. Vessels drawing more than 8 feet water must pass up Spanish river, (which is the third mouth from the high land) and double an island six miles north of Mobile, and then, with a northerly wind, drop down to town. Vessels of the same draft pass directly from the sea into the port of Blakely, without the least delay.

The harbor of Blakely is spacious, convenient, and secure, having bold shores on all sides, and entirely land-locked close in. The high lands on which the town stands, shield the shipping entirely from all easterly and southerly gales, (the only dangerous winds in Mobile bay.)

Blakely wide, high streets

The town of Blakely is regularly laid out, with streets 99 feet wide, running at right angles, east and west, north and south. It is situated upon two general benches of land; the one in front on the river (300 feet from the margin) is 25 feet in height above the water; then about one quarter of a mile back the ground rises gradually for half a mile, till it gains an elevation above the level of the sea of one hundred feet thence a beautiful plain for nearly a mile, when the land rises into a ridge of two hundred and fifty feet above high water mark.


Live Oaks at Blakeley State Park, (Carol Highsmith 2010, Library of Congress)

Lots of fresh water and live oaks

No town in the United States is better supplied with fresh water, than Blakely. A great multitude of never-failing copious springs of the purest water issue from the high table of land within the plat of the town, as well as from the high ridge in its rear. So that however extensive the town may become in process of time, all parts may; by means of aqueducts, be accommodated with a plenty of the best of water Such a privilege is rarely to be realized in seaports, especially in so warm a climate as that on the coast of Florida.

The numerous groves of majestic live oaks, interspersed over the scite (sic) of Blakely, will, with judicious reservations of such as fall within the streets, not only become a great ornament to the town, but be a source of much comfort to the inhabitants during the influence of an almost vertical sun

Great business competition

This promising town is rapidly improving Some of the principal merchants at Mobile, and also several mercantile gentlemen from New York, Boston, New Orleans, and elsewhere, have recently purchased lots of the original proprietors, are are now erecting suitable warehouses, stores, and dwelling-houses in Blakeley, preparatory to extensive business there in the fall.

There is, at present, a great competition between the proprietors of Blakeley and Mobile.

Which town is to take the lead in trade is at present unknown. It will depend much upon the force of capital, and the description of people, who are not yet settled in either town. For the capital there now is very considerable, and the population small.

Discover more lost and forgotten stories about Alabama in:

ALABAMA FOOTPRINTS – Volume I – IV: Four Volumes in One 

The first four Alabama Footprints books – Volumes 1-IV have been combined into one book

ALABAMA FOOTPRINTS – Volume I – IV: Four Volumes in One (Kindle Edition)

By (author):  Causey, Donna R

List Price: $9.99
New From: $9.99 In Stock
buy now

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!

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.